Keep up to date with Indian Ink. Sign up to our newsletter.
Sign Me Up

Note: This production is known as 'Guru Of Chai' in other countries

Secrets of Life, Love, and Everything
Written By Jacob Rajan & Justin Lewis

Premiered in 2008

The contradictions of modern India with its iPhones and ancient gods come alive in this outrageously funny and heartbreakingly beautiful romantic thriller. A poor chai-wallah (tea-seller) has his life changed forever when a young girl is abandoned at a busy railway station and brings the place to a standstill with the beauty of her singing.

Our Guru (Jacob Rajan) is a buck-toothed chameleon, channeling 17 characters and leaping to multiple locations, delivering a serpentine romantic thriller while dispensing dubious spiritual wisdom. He is by turns charming, loathsome and absurdly profound. Laughter, heartbreak and enlightenment abound – not to mention the killer live soundtrack provided by his mute side-kick, Dave! (Adam Ogle).

Extremely talented and award-winning multi-instrumentalist Ogle plays the banjo, drum machine, whistles and even a humble plastic bag deftly weaving a vibrant musical score with an atmospheric soundscape. This is Ogle’s second show with Indian Ink after his stunning debut in their acclaimed production The Elephant Thief.

Scooping Best Play, Best Actor and Best Composer on debut, Guru of Chai has gone on to sell out tours around the world ultimately being picked up by a top U.S agent. Coast to coast tours across the states have bought audiences to their feet pronouncing it “the best show”.

Private Performances 

Looking for an utterly satisfying, uniquely personal arts experience?

We have just the ticket!

Jacob Rajan (MNZM) brings new meaning to the phrase up-close-and-personal by providing a humorous, entertaining and inspiring experience that is so delightful and unique, neither you nor your discerning guests will ever forget it.

Find out more

Photo Credits: Robert Catto, Tina Colella Photography

Download programme information
Available Now!

Want your own private audience with the Guru?

A limited range of dates are available for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Contact Jude Froude below.

Enquire Now More Information

Private Show Information

What do you get?

The Company brings lighting, set, costumes, and props to your selected venue (e.g. home or office) to create a truly magical occasion for your invited audience. There is no limit to the number of guests you can invite - as long as there's enough space for them and the performers. The Artists are Arts Laureate Jacob Rajan and talented young musician Adam Ogle, supported by our stage manager who will ensure that all technical and production elements happen without a hiccup. The performance lasts 80 minutes and as an added bonus, if you wish it, Jacob is happy to chat with your guests after the show.

What does it cost?

The all-inclusive fee for this wonderul and unforgettable experience is only NZ$6,500 including GST.

What's Been Said

Cast & Crew

Jacob Rajan

Writer & Performer


Jacob Rajan

Company Director, Writer & Performer

Jacob is an Arts Foundation Laureate and founding partner of Indian Ink. He collaborated to create Krishnan’s Dairy, The Candlestickmaker, The Pickle King, The Dentist’s Chair, The Guru of Chai and Kiss the Fish and has performed them throughout New Zealand and internationally.

Jacob won “Best Actor” in the 2010 Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for ‘The Guru of Chai’. He has also received an accolade for acting excellence and was nominated for the Stage Award for Best Actor at the   Edinburgh Fringe. Jacob has featured on New Zealand TV series (Outrageous Fortune and Shortland Street). In 2013 Jacob was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) in the New Year’s Honours List.

Jacob’s family originates in Kerala, Southern India. He was born in Malaysia and immigrated to New Zealand at the age of four. Jacob has a degree in microbiology, a teacher’s diploma and is a graduate of Toi Whakaari – The New Zealand Drama School.

David Ward

Composer & Musician


David Ward

Musician, Compser and Musical Director

A Jazz Graduate from the Wellington Conservatorium of Music, David has twice won “Most Outstanding Composer” at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards for his work on Guru of Chai and Kiss The Fish.

Adam Ogle



Adam Ogle


Adam Ogle is a guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer. He has worked with Whangarei-based theatre company Company of Giants on The Owl and the Pussycat and the Whangarei Festival of Light and Art, Auckland Theatre Company on Giant Teeth, in the Young and Hungry Festival on Uncle Minotaur and with Smoke Labours Productions on Stutterpop. He has also taught guitar and mandolin at the Whangarei Celtic Summer School ‘Gaidhealtachd’ and taught and performed at the Auckland Folk Festival. He received the ‘Frank Winter Memorial Award’ awarded for his outstanding contribution as a young instrumentalist.

Justin Lewis

Writer & Director


Justin Lewis

Company Director, Writer & Artistic Director

Justin is a founding partner of Indian Ink and collaborated with Jacob Rajan to create the company’s works: Krishnan’s Dairy, The Candlestickmaker, The Pickle King, The Dentist’s Chair, Guru of Chai and Kiss the Fish.  Indian Ink’s productions have won numerous awards including two Edinburgh Fringe First Awards and Three production of the Year Awards in New Zealand. Justin has produced numerous national and international tours.  He is Deputy Chair of Q Theatre and has been heavily involved in its development from the beginning. In 2008 he received a Kaupapa Oranga Award for his services to theatre. Justin is a graduate of the John Bolton Theatre School and University of Auckland.

Cathy Knowsley

Tech Manager


Cathy Knowsley

Lighting Designer / Technical Manager

Cathy has over 20 year’s experience in theatre production and touring. She first joined the Indian Ink team in1998 and when not on tour with Indian Ink specialises in event management and health and safety with her company HiViz Event Management.

John Verryt

Set & Costume Designer


John Verryt

Set & Costume Design

John has worked on all of Indian Ink’s productions to date. With over 30 years experience he is one of New Zealand’s leading performance designers with an extensive portfolio of work including designs for NBR New Zealand Opera, Black Grace Dance Company, Douglas Wright and Auckland Theatre Company.

Murray Edmond



Murray Edmond


Murray has been dramaturg on all of Indian Ink’s productions. A poet and founder of Town and Country players (NZ), Murray has recently retired from his role as Professor of Drama at Auckland University where he headed the Drama course.


  • David's Note

I have had the pleasure of being involved with Indian Ink since 2004, operating guitar, banjo, cash registers, hairdryers, ropes and pulleys, crying like a baby on cue and getting to ‘shoot’ Jacob night after night in Krishnan’s Dairy.

I have lost count of the shows that I have performed in NZ, Australia, Germany, Singapore and U.S.A, each show inexorably morphing into one de ja vu experience. I can now rattle off Jacob’s lines verbatim, and I am convinced that at least a few scenes will flash before my eyes in my final moments! In 2007 I was thrilled to be handed the role of composer and musical director for their 4th play The Dentist’s Chair, and to work my music into the fabric of a brand new show. Since then I would occasionally hear rumours of a 5th play, but Justin and Jacob kept it close to their chests until late 2009, when Justin asked me to write music for The Guru Of Chai.

As with all their shows, the challenge was how to create the magic of a large, vivid world from the minimal and the simple. This time, the brief was: contemporary India, upbeat and layered…with one actor, one musician. I originally wrote music to English translations of Indian folk songs, but it soon became clear that we needed to sing in Indian, specifically Malayalam. We brought in Ravi Muthu a wonderful Malayalam singer, to coach us on pronunciation and make sure our singing was as authentic as possible. When Ravi improvised around my compositions he naturally added melodic and rhythmic nuances that were just out of the reach of our western ears. At one point I had to embrace a sense of humility and scrap a beat that I had painstakingly built up over 2 weeks, but the final songs were definitely the richer for it.

Read More

Thank you for giving to Indian Ink.

Please complete the form and we will send details of how to make your payment. Once payment has been processed we will send you a tax reciept.

Your Details

Gift Details

I would like to give:

I would like my gift to be:

Contact Method

Preferred method contact:

View our privacy policy