Theatre-maker Jacob Rajan on his favourite things

Jacob Rajan sits on a stool wearing a white long shelved shirt with strips and black jeans.(Your Weekender)

Jacob Rajan is the co-writer of Indian Ink Theatre Company. He’s the man behind the mask – and the art – that has been entertaining audiences here and overseas with shows like Krishnan’s Dairy for more than 25 years.

The company’s latest show, Dirty Work, is playing Auckland, Nelson, Christchurch, Wellington and Tauranga from June 16-August 20. Visit indianink.co.nz for info and tickets.

We asked Rajan to share a few of his favourite things…

Favourite TV show

The only thing I’ve watched on TV lately is Colin from Accounts, a brilliant little Australian romantic comedy series. I was performing in a play in Sydney last year alongside one of the show’s superb co-stars, Emma Harvie, and she gave me all the inside goss. The leads are a real-life couple and also the writers of the show. Their chemistry is fantastic. I pretty much binged the 8 episodes in one sitting. It’s on TVNZ+.

Favourite restaurant

Little Penang on Victoria Street, Wellington. I was born in Malaysia so I can justify coming here and stuffing my face as my birthright. I always agonise between the mee goreng, which comes with a delicious crispy vegetable fritter on top, or the bihun goreng, which has little crispy bits of pork belly hidden inside – it’s a great problem to have.


I’m obsessed with The National. Lead singer Matt Berninger’s hypnotic baritone gets me every time. My son, who’s a musician, calls it Sad Dad Divorce Music. Unkind. I’m not contemplating divorce but, I have to admit, Guilty Party would be a great one to go out on.

Thing to buy at the supermarket

Red wine … for cooking obviously.


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. A teacher gave it to me when I was 15 and it was the first book that opened me up to real literature. It’s a coming of age story set against the backdrop of class and racial struggle in the American South. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and, sadly, the themes are still as relevant today.

Item of clothing

My wife bought me a Leonard Cohen T-shirt when we went to his concert in Wellington. A pixelated image of him wearing his iconic trilby and sunglasses. The show was practically a religious experience. He died a year later. I wore the T-shirt to shreds. It’s unwearable now but I still can’t get rid of it.


The only thing on my podcast app I listen to isn’t really a podcast but I use it all the time. It’s called Nothing Much Happens by Kathryn Nicolai. She writes and reads stories that help you sleep.

That doesn’t mean the stories are boring but Kathryn’s voice and words do share a sort of soothing quality. They’re just distracting enough to silence the chatter in your head. I often fall asleep within a couple of sentences. I don’t have to worry about missing anything because – nothing much happens.


Anywhere I’ve never been. I love travel and finding delicious local delicacies in the place they were born. My current wish list includes Japan, Portugal, Mexico and Sri Lanka.


You realise that if I didn’t say my wife, Philippa, I would be listening to The National on repeat for eternity, don’t you? We’ve known each other longer than we haven’t and raising our three gorgeous children and easily alarmed dog together has been joyous miracle. To paraphrase Tina Turner: she’s simply the best.


The luminous Cate Blanchett once said that performing in theatre is like having an extended sleepover with friends. I think that’s a slightly romantic but marvellous description.

The sparkling Oscar Wilde said it’s “the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” I’m not going to argue with Cate and Oscar. I’ve been a theatre-maker for 25 years and my job’s pretty bloody great.