Singh is an Indian novelist, screenplay-writer and film-maker living in
A graduate in History from St Stephen's College, Delhi, with a
postgraduate degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, he
moved to Paris for doctoral work at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en
Sciences Sociales. This move-over was precipitated principally by his
passion for French literature and surrealism, particularly after a
chance encounter with André Breton’s Manifestoes
While still a student in Paris, he started contributing articles to the
French press in the early eighties. This was the beginning of his
career as a journalist. He has written extensively for several leading
French and international newspapers such as Le Monde, Le Monde
Diplomatique, Libération and The Guardian, covering some of
most turbulent events of that epoch – Operation Blue Star,
Bhopal Gas tragedy, Indira Gandhi’s assassination and its
In 1984, a leading French publisher asked him to write a book on India.
Vijay Singh decided to undertake a long and hazardous journey down the
holy river Ganges, from its source in the snow-bound Himalayas to the
Bay of Bengal. With this “pilgrimage” as the
thread, and a surrealist Franco-Indian love-story as his inspiration,
he wrote his first novel, Jaya Ganga, In Search of the River Goddess
(Ramsay 1985, Penguin 1989, Rupa 2005). The book received stupendous
response from the entire French press.
Since then, Vijay Singh has written several books that have won wide
critical acclaim internationally: La Nuit Poignardée
(Flammarion, 1987), Whirlpool of Shadows (Jonathan Cape, 1992, Rupa
1992, 2005) and a dreamy tale for children, The River Goddess
(Gallimard Jeunesse/Moonlight, 1994). Whirlpool of Shadows was listed
by the 1992 Booker Prize Winner, Barry Unsworth, as one his three Best
Books of the Year in The Sunday Times, UK.
Vijay Singh’s entry into the world of images and cinema was
accident. In 1989, a young French producer knocked at his door. He
didn’t have any specific project or film in mind, but he
nevertheless insisted on doing a documentary with Vijay Singh.
Singh’s idea to make a documentary on the theme of man and
led to the making of Man and Elephant (Chami and Ana), a 30’ film, part
part documentary, on the relationship between an elephant keeper and
his elephant in Kerala. To date, this film has been shown on over 100
Jaya Ganga was Vijay Singh’s first feature film, an
his earlier novel. It premiered in competition at the World Film
Festival, Montreal, and then travelled to over 50 international
festivals. It ran for 49 weeks in the Paris cinemas before playing on
80 screens in the UK. The film received tremendous press response
internationally. The Guardian called it “a mesmerising
of the most authentic depictions of everyday Indian magic ever
His second feature film, One Dollar Curry, was shot entirely in Paris
and released in France and the UK. It ran to full houses for several
weeks in North India and was highly acclaimed by the press.
Vijay Singh has been a guest speaker at several conferences held
worldwide and has also made individual presentations of his work at the
Universities of Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford. He has also held
workshops for film students on “Literature and
the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune.
He was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Award for the screenplay of Jaya
Ganga, La Titine Best Film Award for his documentary Man and Elephant,
and the Prix Villa Médicis hors les murs Award for foreign
(Penguin books, London, Delhi 1990. Rupa 2005)
OF SHADOWS (Jonathan Cape, London, 1992. Rupa 1992, 2005)
GODDESS, (Moonlight- Gallimard, London,
GANGA, LE GANGE ET SON DOUBLE (Ramsay, Paris1985,
Editions Autrement, 1986, co-author.
POIGNARDEE (Flammarion, Paris, 1987)
D’OMBRES, (Editions Ramsay, 1992, Ginkgo 2005).
QUI DEVINT FLEUVE (Gallimard Jeunesse, 1993).
D’AUTEURS / AUTHORS PLACES OF INSPIRATION (Editions Palais, Paris,
PREMIERE FOIS, co-author with Gabriella Wright, Editions du Seuil,
here for more detailed information on the books and also translations
in other languages)
FOR BECKETT BY GODOT, staged in Delhi 1976.
DREAMS, a partial adaptation and translation of A
Thousand and One Nights.
Performed in Norway, France in 1993.
SHADI LAL, A MYSTIC CHEF, 1986 (Shadi Lal, Le cuisinier chef mystique)
CHAMI and ANA - MAN AND ELEPHANT, 1990 (L'Homme et l'Elephant)
INDIA BY SONG, 2010
JAYA GANGA (Jaya, Fille du Gange) 1996
ONE DOLLAR CURRY, 2004
ONE DOLLAR CURRY
WHIRLPOOL OF SHADOWS
2008, in development
a screenplay written with Biyyala Rao, 2004
to Screenplays :
INDIAN NOCTURNE, a film by Alain Corneau, translation-adaptation of the
Le Monde, Le Monde Diplomatique, Libération, Le Nouvel
Observateur, L'Evénement du Jeudi, La Quinzaine
Littéraire, Le Point, Actuel…
The Guardian, Pen International
The Times of India, Indian Express, India Today