I begin with a song which may never have been sung, but, which in the summer of 1861, appeared in the pages of the periodical Somprakash as a brief chronicle of the times. By then, the focus of the so-called ‘Indigo disturbances’ in Bengal had shifted from the countryside to the city of Calcutta, in the form of a much-publicized trial concerning the English translation of a Bengali play excoriating the misdeeds of the indigo planters. In the first stanza of the song, the names of Long, Harish Chandra, Grant, Eden, Wells, Jackson, Peacock, Singha-babu and Walter Brett, alternately praised and reviled, appeared in quick succession while the second stanza encompassed an 164appeal to the ‘British-goddess pale’ and the ‘Mighty Queen’ of England by the peasants of Bengal, praying for the protection of her power. The songwriter, going by the name of Dheeraj, also provided the raga to which the song was to be sung should anyone have wished to perform it. This was not the only song to be written or sung during the indigo agitation, for versifying and singing seemed to come naturally to the inhabitants of the lower delta of Bengal, and songs and ballads were a staple of the traditional modes of Bengali cultural expression as well as more recent modes such as the theatrical stage. But this intersection between performance, print and protest was something new, unprecedented in the political life of the subcontinent. In this essay, I propose to look at a particular episode from the indigo agitation as an instance of a commodity entering into a field of cultural production and generating a cultural economy with its own currency and rules of transaction. Thus the deeply divisive and brutal commerce of indigo led to a secondary, social life of the commodity in which the negotiations over its fate touched on a hitherto invisible realm of emotion and affect. In their attempts to shape the subsequent career of indigo, the various stakeholders – planters, peasants, the government, missionaries and the local intelligentsia – all entered into a complex negotiation whose unit of currency was chiefly the printed word, mobilized variously in books, periodicals, newspapers and plays. This essay will consider generally various genres of print that appeared during the indigo disturbances, but particularly the English translation of Dinabandhu Mitra’s play Nil-Darpan, titled The Indigo-Planting Mirror. 2