Mataji

Sandip Roy profiles Sujit Saraf, founder of the Bay Area theater group Naatak and their upcoming production, "Mataji:"

Saraf says he's realizing that the stories he wants to tell increasingly don't happen in India anymore. "We didn't do plays in English in the beginning," he says.

"Over the years it's become clear that some Hindi plays we do are as foreign to us as 'A Streetcar Named Desire' is in India," he says. " 'Mataji' is really our play." The house it's set in could belong to any of the cast. The play skewers India's penchant for exporting gurus and god-men. Some promise to manifest themselves on the moon. Others conjure up Rolex watches or cure cancer by touch. Saraf's Mataji hugs.

Over the years, we've had any number of films from Hollywood trying to poke fun at the same thing: fake gurus with tenuous Indian connections. The Guru and The Love Guru come to mind. It's good to see the same creative territory explored from a different and more realistic perspective which I am sure Naatak will bring. Here's to a complete absence of tired Bollywood pastiches that seemed to fill those aforementioned films and to something different.

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- July 24, 2008 6:38 PM // Bay Area , Diaspora , Theater