Checkmate – Nisha Singhi storms the handcrafted citadel

Checkmate from Nisha Singhi’s Vazir Pens
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Checkmate from Nisha Singhi’s Vazir Pens wows the fountain pen connoisseurs with its craftsmanship and writing abilities.

The Indian army has never crossed its borders in a military campaign to conquer, pillage or subjugate. Yet, paradoxical as it is, a strategy game that originated in India, whose ultimate aim is to capture the opponent’s king – Chaturanga – has fired the imagination of the world for eons at an end. Yes, we are talking about chess, which from India, through the middle east and Persia had reached Europe to evolve into its current form around the 15th century.

It is thus no surprise that Nisha Singhi, the moving spirit behind the Vazir brand of fountain pens in India, would create a writing instrument that would be dedicated to this ancient game. As a matter of fact, the parallels are striking, if one were to consider the finer nuances with which the christening of the pen has been arrived at. The brand is Vazir, which in Persian refers to the Advisor or Minister, equivalent to the Queen in Western Chess, the most powerful piece on the board. Nisha Singhi, by her sheer inventiveness and hard work has curved for herself a distinct niche in the Indian fountain pen community and it will not be an exaggeration to refer to her as the queen of the hand turned fountain pen making segment. Whichever way you look at it, Vazir is making a very loaded statement with the pen and like it or lump it, one must salute the sheer audacity, the chutzpah behind the naming!


Besides, just like Charturanga, Vazir’s Checkmate has ambitions that are unsheathed. No, the Vazir may not be riding at the head of a marauding army with the daggers drawn, but is surely looking for conquests. As Nisha Singhi puts it, “Vazir wants to win hearts and influence connoisseurs with its quality and creativity”. And, those are areas where Vazir certainly has an edge – I have been using Nisha Singhi’s pens for more than five years now and can safely vouch about their no-nonsense functionality and user-friendliness. The Check Mate too is a sheer delight to write with: mine comes with a number 6 customised nib, a feed that is wet enough for daily use and is fitted with a Schmidt converter. The Checkmate weighs 24.90 gms (without ink) and balances beautifully on average to slightly larger hands, leading to the feeling where the words seem to leap straight out from your mind to the paper. Mine has the preferred Fine nib, and I am sure the Medium or the Broad of the species will exhibit similar characteristics to win the hearts of the beholders.

The Vazir Checkmate is a visually stunning pen, which according to Nisha Singhi, has been crafted by hand curving the design elements, which has exposed the inner material to contrast with the outer, thereby giving rise to the almost sublime chiaroscuro. Suffice to say, when drawn out, the Checkmate is sure to act as a conversation starter. As a matter of fact, the sheer love with which the pen has been conceived and created has to be seen to be believed, the affection writ large on the small things, the minute details. And there is a reason behind that too, for Nisha Singhi is the better half of Vishal Singhi, who like us, is a fountain pen fanatic and a collector. Vazir, as an entity, it will not be an exaggeration to say, is more a fruit of passion than an out and out commercial enterprise seeking to sell pens. Besides, the husband-wife duo of Nisha and Vishal Singhi have another huge contribution to the fountain pen community – they were the spirit behind The India Pen Show (TIPS), the first of its kind carnival for fountain pen, ink and accessory connoisseurs.


The Vazir Checkmate, like most Vazir products, is very attractively priced. Says Nisha Singhi, “we price our pens strictly on a cost-plus basis making sure that the price remains well within the ability of the average fountain pen lover, who are our biggest strength. While we do sell a number of pieces overseas where our pens are very well received, both Vishal and I feel that our primary loyalty should continue to remain with the local fountain pen lovers, who are the real members of our family, our well-wishers, since the day I started this voyage of pen and ink discovery”.

The post pandemic period has been a very trying one for the Indian fountain pen manufacturers and Vazir has been no exception. On the face of it, the industry is celebrating the sudden spurt in demand which has been brought about by a new generation of users taking up the fountain pen and ink to first fight the boredom as they were locked indoors and then to overcome the depression brought about by the digital damnation of their lives. The fact that many a brick-and-mortar buyer was forced towards the e-commerce platforms during the period, claim experts, also bodes well for the industry, whose fruits will be ready for the plucking over time. However, on the other side of the same coin, the supply side of the industry has become beset with a number of problems. Trained workers who had migrated to their villages are yet to return in full force leading to a situation where there is a severe shortage of manpower which is today becoming a crippling hassle for the makers. Logistical lines too, have been disrupted which are not showing any signs of immediate improvement, input prices often hovering at unbelievably high levels. The long period of inactivity, when business had come to a virtual standstill, has also forced many small and medium entities to shut shop, their absence often acting as the tilting factor. And finally, there is the terrible cash crunch which is seemingly all pervasive – people just don’t have the money to spend, especially on what many consider to be indulgences, like fountain pens.

But everything said and done, is the Vazir Check Mate a pen good enough to overcome all the obstacles? I certainly think so. Checkmate, in real sense of the term.

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2 Replies to “Checkmate – Nisha Singhi storms the handcrafted citadel”

  1. Fan of constellation 88 for years. there new vazir is another touch of elegance in the design of indian fountain pen industry

  2. I love the spirit of both Nisha and Vishal. Fantastic user experience with them. Their patient attention to even the smallest and trifling queries and promptness in attending or resolving the smallest nitpicking issues is really commendable. I offer my best wishes to them.


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