The Last Nizam of Hyderabad Who Wasn’t

Mukarram Jah inherited the wealth of the world’s richest man, but swiftly squandered it. To this day, many consider him unworthy of the title.

last nizam of hyderabad
Mukarram Jah with Princess Esra at Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad in 1967, the year he was crowned nizam (John Zubrzycki)

Ayesha Le Breton


November 30, 2023


10 min

Mukarram Jah allegedly never carried cash, a credit card, or a checkbook despite his taste for the finer things in life. “He had no inkling whatsoever of anything financial,” John Zubrzycki, author of The Last Nizam: The Rise and Fall of India’s Greatest Princely State, said.

The young man, though an heir of the Nizam or Asaf Jahi dynasty in Hyderabad, India, was born in the south of France and studied in England. He pursued extravagant hobbies, from tinkering with cars and renovating speedboats to traveling, water skiing, and frequenting jazz clubs in London with his first wife Esra Birgen. The couple hobnobbed with movie stars and royals alike.

But, alas, duty called when his grandfather, Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizam of Hyderabad died and left him the princely title in 1967. Khan had overlooked his eldest son, a notorious gambler and womanizer, to appoint Mukarram the next Nizam of Hyderabad. The title came with a vast inheritance. But Osman Ali Khan’s choice would cost him and Hyderabad’s heritage greatly. With Jah’s recklessness, can we consider him the last Nizam, or was he merely a self-serving one percenter?

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