Bahadur Book Launch

AF Bombay presents the book launch of ‘Bahadur: Shah of Gujarat’ – A misunderstood teenager whose story shaped India, written by Kalpish Ratna, published by Simon & Schuster India.

The launch will be followed by a brief discussion with the authors, Dr. Kalpana Swaminathan and Dr. Ishrat Syed.

Time has forgotten Bahadur Shah. History has condemned him as a wastrel and overlooked his military genius. What was he really like ? Come find out!


  • Free & open for all
  • Registration mandatory

 Thursday, 18 January

 6:30 PM onwards

AF Bombay – Theosophy Hall


Time has forgotten Bahadur Shah. History has condemned him as a wastrel and overlooked his military genius.

What was he really like, this rebellious man? A warrior born, why did he refuse the most vital battle in history? Why did he surrender the islands of Bombay to two centuries of Portuguese rule?

This book chooses to answer these questions and tell Bahadur’s story using the footnotes, fables and anecdotes from different historical accounts spanning over the five centuries since his death as embellishments to the main narrative strand, like homespun thread woven between silken stories.

Shashti Island, which today lies in Western Suburban Mumbai, was a prosperous island in the 1500s when it saw the arrival of the Portuguese, who immediately began raids on the western coastline. Within 20 years, Shashti was converted into a wasteland, the people terrorised, the women raped, the men enslaved. However, it had still not been occupied by the Portuguese. On 23 December 1534, the Sultan of Gujarat signed away the seven islands of Bombay to the Portuguese, inaugurating centuries of religious persecution and enslavement. That Sultan was Bahadur Shah.


Dr. Kalpana Swaminathan and Dr. Ishrat Syed write together as Kalpish Ratna. Both practicing surgeons, they explore the interface between science and humanities.

The story of Bahadur Shah is deeply personal to them, having grown up in Shashti Island, which was an erstwhile part of Gujarat. However, they soon discovered that his history was buried underneath fantastical tales and exaggerated accounts by the Portuguese, which had been unquestioningly accepted by not only the colonial historians of the 19th and 20th centuries, but also the tertiary sources, which were standard historical narratives of our time.

However, a little further digging revealed verifiable anecdotes by Indian historians, talking about what had happened to their people. As pieces of the jigsaw puzzle came together, it revealed an intriguing young man, who could have been the quintessential hero, had history not damned him.