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

Heart warming cuppa that’s satisfying and smooth

By: The Business Times, Singapore

Heart warming cuppa that’s satisfying and smooth

Guru of Chai combines fine storytelling and dramatisation, says CHEAH UI-HOON

What makes a night out at the theatre enjoyable is when you’re masterfully taken – almost by sleight of hand – into a story which, while unfolding, still leaves enough room for your imagination to fill in the blanks.

Guru of Chai, New Zealand company Indian Ink Theatre’s latest one-man show (discounting the unobtrusive presence of a musician-accompanist on stage), was one such “magical” theatre moment – a perfect marriage of good storytelling and excellent dramatisation.

Like a good chai, the play’s two key ingredients are contemporary writing in the spirit of Booker. Prize-winning novel The White Tiger and dramatic elements as seen in plays like the West End’s Woman in Black . Add to the mix some Bollywood-like plot developments and twists for that heartwarming cuppa that’s satisfying and smooth.

The story, narrated by actor writer Jacob Rajan, is told from the perspective of a Chai-wallah in a train station and is about seven sisters abandoned by there by their widowed father and the fate of one sister who has a crowd-stopping voice.

The story is an original tale written by Rajan, but it’s not so much its plot or punchline which is the highlight as how Rajan has cleverly told ‘ the tale, acted the various characters in it, and used music; sound and lighting effects, even magic tricks, to illustrate the story and draw ill the audience.

On the whole, it was like an Indian friend telling you a sordid story of what happened to these sisters in Bangalore, while giving you the low-down on the political and social realities as well.

Rajan also ramped up the humour by giving his narrative a stand-up comedy-like treatment a clever approach which erased the line between make-believe and reality , and allowed Rajan a lot more humorous digs than if it was mere “theatre”.

The chai-wallah’s description of the poet: one who can turn filthy thoughts into pomegranates and figs, he .says, his hand gesturing to the right anatomical places.

Every time you were swept up into th e fairy tale qualities of the story of a singer who falls in love with a poet but has to give up her son, Rajan would throw in an everyman observation to bring you down to earth – but always with a witty thud.

Most of all, one appreciated the tightly -edited writing and directing, the deliberate and well-placed gestures, mimicking and physical play (watch’ out for the part where the audience has to imagine the stuffed parrot flying towards Rajan!) – all of which combined with his narration to give us a heady brew.




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