The Great History of French India – Nagarathinam Krishna’s “Neela Kadal” (Blue Sea) – Ra. Giritharan


Giri(The author is a young writer, hailed from Pondichery who has written recently this synopsis  as an introductory note about Neelakadal to the  Cambridge Tamil Chair, as per their request)


Noted Writer Nagarathinam Krishna’s novel “Neela Kadal” (Blue Sea) –originally published in Tamil in 2005 – is compelling, convincing history of the Tamil diaspora in the last 600 years of Asian history. It runs to more than 500 pages and spans the history of the last five centuries. Being a historical novel, it is also long sighted and global in its theme. It cannot be categorised as a propaganda novel and serves its purpose in giving a cross sectional view of not only the history of the Tamils but also the nature of the colonial force across Asia and the British Isles from the 15th century till early 20th century.

nilakadalThe delightful title of the novel “Neelak Kadal” though rhetoric, brings in perspective the great ocean and its people who have crossed it in search of Power, Wealth and Livelihood. In this aspect, the novel spanning from the 15th century AD to the 20th century enlivens the monumental tale of oppression & morality. This is a thinly veiled account of the French colonies of India from Pondicherry, Mahe, Chandranagore to the French-British Isles of Mauritius & Reunion. Nagarathinam Krishna skilfully intervenes the elements of traditional mythological storytelling and the realms of modern physiology.

The novel is a story of a crumbled dynasty of Madurai Nayakas and their attempt to capture their kingdom amidst all the colonial forces trying to have their share of land. This is told with a historicity of fiercely Islamic rule in its dying age paving way to European colonial forces and how attempts to survive leads to more catastrophe among the Indian kings. Slavery, which was abolished by the British in the initial days of the 19th century, was one of the flourishing trades during the beginning of 18th century.

The novel deals with the life of the Tamils who migrated to Mauritius during the French colonisation of Pondicherry. Many of them were forcefully kidnapped and had to resort to their fate in the small island. All of them are the forefathers of the Tamil community that is currently lively in Mauritius. They were the builders of the island and the main reason for the growth of the capital city, Port Louis. At the same time, these people were the most dominated and subjugated population of Asia. Most of them lived so near to death each day, yet survived to build a vibrant community in the Island.

It is pleasure to read a novel that is philosophical, deals with metaphysical world and at the same time is embroiled with rich characters that span across multiple centuries. Many times it is the good old history repeats itself in its theme, but due to the transcendental nature of the vice it reaches new depths.

Nagarathinam Krishna does not deal with any stereotypical treatment of his characters. Most of his characters are life like and are picked from the lifeline of French-India history. This novel deals with the cultural colonisation of the last four centuries in Asia. This is the beginning of Indian writing on colonisation and its effects, especially in Tamil.1

Nagarathinam Krishna hails from a village in Pondicherry, India. He currently lives in Strasbourg, France. He is a bilingual writer and has authored more than 20 books in Tamil. Some of his popular writing ranges from introducing French Literature in Tamil, Mata Hari history and history of Pondicherry & Gingee. He has also translated many French writers into Tamil and vice versa. His website is:-

Neela Kadal

Published by Sandhya Publication, Chennai.

Published Year 2005


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