I have written these plays over the last few years and directed most of them for Naatak. Here is a brief description of each, and photos of past performances.  If you'd like to stage any of these, contact me for scripts and rights.

Death In San Francisco (English)  2011  
K. K. (Hindi)  2010  

Mataji  (English) 

2008 photos

Everyone Loves A Good Tsunami (English) 

2005 photos

Tathaa Kuru  (Hindi) 

2003 photos

Deepavali  (Hindi) 

1999 -

Vande Maataram  (Hindi) 

1998 photos

Amaa Vasya  (Hindi) 


Aath Ghante  (Hindi) 

1997 photos



Over the years, I've tried my hand at independent film-making. These are both feature films,  set in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Asphyxiating Uma (2002)

view trailer


Bugaboo (1999)

view trailer

rent at Netflix 

More About My Plays

Death In San Francisco (Sep 2011)

Naveen Chandra Gupta, a resident of San Francisco, has died and left behind an unusual request in his will - that he be cremated on the shore with the "proper rites and ceremonies", exactly as he cremated his father in India 33 years ago. As his friends struggle to honour his last wish - with some suggesting that it be ignored - they learn a little about him, a little about themselves, and a lot about what it means for an Indian to die in America.


K.K. (Jan 2010)

Connaught Place, Delhi: K.K. arrives on a warm morning in pursuit of his sole passion, and finds his way through fruit vendors, card players, booksellers, security guards, shoppers, shopkeepers, film goers, gangsters and gold smugglers. Each is an enemy in K.K.'s mind; each takes something from him. This is the story of how K.K. avenges himself on the people he meets, on Connaught Place and on the city itself. There are hundreds of characters in the play but a single actor, who walks through imaginary crowds to talk, quarrel, sing, cry, fight, lose and win. There is no intermission and the set is fluid, changing continuously on wheels even as K.K. moves through it.


Mataji (Feb 2008)

Mataji, born in a poor family on the banks of the Ganga in India, has a simple gift to offer to the world: a loving hug. Over two decades, her embrace has brought boundless joy to millions of devotees. She has travelled to sixty-five countries, hugging thousands in one sitting, sending them into raptures through the transmission of pure bliss that accompanies her hugs. Her followers on five continents no longer regard her as a mere guru, but as Krishna incarnate. Then, on her sixteenth visit to California, she confronts a devotee she cannot satisfy.



Everyone Loves A Good Tsunami (June 2005)

In December 2004, a devastating tsunami killed more than a hundred thousand people in Asia. It was the holiday season in much of the world. Families were glued to their televisions, donor nations and aid agencies were at the front-end of their 2005 budget cycles. The tsunami had timed itself perfectly. The world donated with a generosity unseen before. From my vantage point in Silicon Valley, home to noveau-billionaires, I saw how people were happy to use any opportunity to advance their public profiles. Much pious rubbish was mouthed during the campaign to collect money for the victims; many people got their first chance to give television interviews; many mediocre artists got to perform; many organizations managed to grab news headlines. Soon, however, the world had seen newer and more fashionable disasters, and the market moved where market-forces led it. 

Everyone Loves A Good Tsunami is a farce about competing "non-profit" organizations in Silicon Valley which, amidst organizational turmoil, are suddenly presented with a convenient tsunami. It was staged by Naatak (California) in December, 2005, Natya Bharati (Washington DC) in May, 2007 and Pratidhwani (Seattle) in June, 2007. 



Tathaa Kuru  (December 2003)

The Bhagavad Gita is often described as the distillate of Hindu philosophy. To the religious mind it is grand, beautiful and awe-inspiring, because the religious mind accepts without hesitation the divine status of Krishna. There is no contradiction or repetition in the book because every syllable of the Gita was uttered by Krishna himself.


The atheist knows that the Gita was meant to be a religious book, not a work of philosophy. As a book of religion it is subtle and original; as a philosophical treatise it is repetitive, verbose, arrogant and self-contradictory, and therefore unconvincing. Repetition and verbosity are not problems in themselves. They can be put down to the aesthetic preference of the times during which the Gita was composed. Arrogance afflicts most world-views, which regard themselves as self-evident until proven to be ridiculous by opposing ideas. The problem of self-contradiction, however, cannot be explained away, if the Gita is to claim itself as a philosophical work in the western sense. At different times, Krishna argues from different angles, providing more than a dozen reasons for Arjun to fight the battle. Taken together, these reasons do not make sense. If Arjun is merely an instrument of Krishna's will (nimitt maatra), why does it matter that he can earn fame through battle, or that he can prevent varna sankar? Krishna's most powerful argument  -karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshhu kadaachan ... - can easily be construed as a direction to not fight the battle. A dispassionate atheistic listener of the Gita can be convinced of almost anything by paying particular attention to one of its many ideas.  This is not a revelation. The Gita has been used by different people to justify different (and opposing) points of view. Gandhi used it to condemn violence, politicians use it to justify incompetence, businessmen use it to expect dutiful (and uncarping) hard work from their employees, and I have heard a professor in the Indian Institute of Technology use it to condemn the Mandal Commission. Yet, in the last chapter of the Gita, Arjun avers that his doubts have been dispelled and he is fully convinced he must fight, which is what he does.


Arjun is a devotee of Krishna. He does not sift finely through the arguments put forth by his Supreme Master. He was eager to be convinced even before he voiced his doubts. Krishna's only substantial argument is never presented explicitly in the Gita - I am God, so do as I say: a fine vision for the religious mind, a circular argument for the atheist.


Tathaa Kuru begins with a simple premise: Arjun does not accept Krishna's divinity and concludes that the Gita is not convincing enough. There remains no reason to fight, so he leaves the battlefield. He is finally brought back into battle after a violent confrontation with Krishna, and the appearance of a man named Tiraskari. Tiraskari is an ``anti-Krishna'', who sees through Krishna's arrogance and self-contradiction and offers his own world-view. These arguments ultimately lead him to join the battle himself. Tiraskari's final reasons for fighting the battle of Mahabharat are not very different from the ones Krishna gave to Arjun, but he is much more consistent and concise. He is the atheist's Krishna. He does not require a divine status to be believed. Almost unintentionally, the play finds its way back to the Gita after attempting to move away from it. It provides a reason for the atheist to believe in the Gita, without having to first believe in God.


The title of the play, Tathaa Kuru, derives from Krishna's last instruction in the Gita: I have revealed the most secret of secrets to you, and now, after having deliberated completely on this, do as you want (yathechchhasi tathaa kuru). I have often heard this line used by apologists for Hinduism, who take refuge in its seeming liberalism when accused of intolerance. Hinduism is a broad-minded, tolerant way of life, they say. Why, even Krishna advised Arjun to do as he wanted! Which code of ethics, which system of morality in the whole wide world offers you such a liberal, accommodating set of choices? What the apologists do not say, or do not know, is that Krishna follows up his liberal advice with threats of what will happen to Arjun if he does not do as he has been told. Such threats are brandished throughout the book, leaving no doubt that the enlightened man has but one supreme goal: to be an instrument of Krishna's will. And Krishna's will is expressed a few dozen times with maddening repetitiveness - he wants Arjun to fight. This is the perfect non-choice, in the manner of "choose any color so long as it is red", and it allows the Gita to appear broad-minded while being strict and narrow.


Tathaa Kuru does not attach any weight to the divinity of Krishna, so it is not hobbled by the misty-eyed devotion that enables one to find clarity in nonsense. It takes the lines in the Gita literally and seriously without contorting them to suit the mood of the moment. It de-mystifies the Pandavs, Kauravs and Krishna by presenting them as worldly, ambitious, lustful, manipulative, greedy and conniving human beings. It places them in awkward, humourous and humiliating situations from which they extricate themselves in the manner of other terrestrial beings, and it brings to the fore the obvious contradictions that are littered all over the Gita but are always glossed over by sympathetic readers and interpreters. It is, in my opnion, The Bhagavad Gita As It Should Be. The entire play rhymes. It has been written in aaxa quatrains. It moves at the pace of a poem - a humorous and violent poem that writes a second Gita while pulling apart the first one. Tathaa Kuru was staged in February 2004 in Saratoga, California.



Deepavali   (June 1999)

Deepavali is a murder mystery involving a woman, her husband and her lover. I think I put one twist too many in the plot. I later turned it into a screenplay. My film Asphyxiating Uma is based on Deepavali 


Vande Maataram   (January 1998)

In March, 1942, a British Government pre-occupied with World War II sent Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of Churchill's War Cabinet, to India. He came with the following proposal: the promise of an Indian Union with "Dominion Status" immediately after the war, in return for cooperation by Indians during the war.

Japan had destroyed Pearl Harbour four months before Cripps's arrival, and was now advancing through the Philippines, Singapore and Malaya, toward the eastern Indian border in Assam. Most Indian politicians were wary of the Japanese, and believed that India should accept Cripps's offer and cooperate with Britain to stop Japan's advance, even if Britain could not be trusted to keep its promise after the War. Gandhi, however, rejected Cripps's offer, and instead proposed a nationwide movement to force Britain out of India. On August 8, 1942, the Congress committee met in Bombay to vote on Gandhi's proposal. It was passed, over the vehement opposition of Gandhi's lieutenants - Jawaharlal Nehru, Abul Kalam Azad, and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari - and the Quit India movement was launched.


Vande Maataram is set during that ill-conceived campaign which lasted barely two weeks, weakened the Congress, and brought the British no closer to quitting India. The play describes an unsavoury movement, one among many launched during Quit India, and now tucked away in historical footnotes.  As Quit India spread through the country, a group of unlikely rebels banded together in Kerala to raze symbols of British dominance. They were led by K. B. Menon, a Nehru protege who had earned a doctorate in Economics from the University of Colorado. He had drifted away from Nehru and recruited a Malayali journalist, Keshavan Nair, and two social activists from Bombay, N.A. Krishnan Nair and C.P. Sankaran Nair, to help him in organized sabotage of the British Empire. Their plan was to observe November 9, 1942 as Sabotage Day, pulling down Government structures all over Malabar in one stroke with bombs manufactured in the north Kerala village of  Keezhariyur.


Like all rebels, they had their reasons - not all commendable - for banding together. As the plan progressed, they turned each other over to the police and used the scheme to advance their own interests. On Sabotage Day, the man responsible for setting off the bombs overslept and missed his deadline. Most of the revolutionaries were arrested. During their trial, explosives experts declared that the bombs which were to sabotage the British Empire were merely "zinc tubes filled with gun powder, glass pieces and pieces of gravel, held together by a string", and would have blown up in the perpetrators' faces, had they been used. The entire revolution was snuffed before it began, and most of the rebels applied for a "freedom fighters' pension" after the British left in 1947.


Vande Maataram is a lament for Indian nationalism, and an expression of shame at the absurdity of being an Indian rebel in the forties. The play, loosely based on the Kerala events described above, is set in Patna in 1942.  It was staged in August 1998 in San Jose, California.


Amaa Vasya   (May 1997)

Amaa Vasya is a fairytale written in quatrains in the aaxa form (also called The Omar Khayyam stanza because the Rubaiyat is written in aaxa quatrains). I am not a poet, so I chose the simplest form. Amaa Vasya has never been staged. It is a fantasy describing improbable curses, battles between humans and rivers, a princess who captures lions and a king who hunts nightingales. 


 Aath Ghante   (January 1997)

Two typists in Connaught Place, Delhi, grow old together while typing addresses on postcards. Their window to the world is, literally, a window that looks out into Connaught Place. They stand there, disparage the world, and reassure themselves that their lives carry more meaning than those of people outside. Over thirty years, they try their hand at poetry, re-enact the Mahabharat, stage a play of their own and pontificate on political matters. The play describes an eight-hour working day in their lives - hence the title - which coincides with the passage of thirty years.  Aath Ghante was inspired by Murray Schisgal's Typists. To the best of my knowledge, Sandeep Verma at IIT Delhi was the first to adapt this into a Hindi play called Typist in 1988-89. Aath Ghante has been staged by Naatak (California) in February, 1997, IIT Delhi in April, 2000, Pratidhwani (Seattle) in September, 2006 and AKS (National School of Drama, Delhi) in July, 2007, followed by a dozen shows all over India. 



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