I had the pleasure of reviewing The Process last year. A dramatised depiction of an asylum seeker's downward spiral. Observing Raj's portrayal, I was completely awestruck. Almost electrocuted. Powerful presence, fierce emotionality. Never in my life have I witnessed such unbridled onstage intensity. Almost sensing, this real-life tragedy meant something personal to Raj - or perhaps I was just convinced. Either way, it should've come as no surprise. At least, to those familiar with this tireless, yet stifled, pigeonholed, typecast Melbourne actor. With twenty years experience raging fire in his belly, it was relatively easy to connect with such source material. An upside of personal hardship perhaps.
Rajendra Moodley's 'Is it Because I'm Indian?' also echoes reality. We begin in the UK, several decades ago. A pre-teenage Raj, struggling to assimilate. That is, until learning he was emigrating to Australia. Quickly redirecting his efforts to a daily deconstruction of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Unfortunately however, the grass isn't always greener. Bullied in the schoolyard, ridiculed in the classroom, not only by students, it was Raj's dad who'd set the school straight. And when Raj performed in school productions, again, it was his late dad who encouraged him despite those pesky teachers. The racism encountered didn't cease upon entering tertiary education either. Or audition rooms for that matter.
I read a past review, asserting 'Is it Because I'm Indian?' is more drama than comedy. Though I'd rather refute this point of contention, I really can't. On the other hand, this play isn't advertised as a comedy - in terms of its present 'The Curry in a Hurry' tour anyway. Not to say you won't laugh. Just helpful to acclimatise. That is, appreciate 'Is it Because I'm Indian?' isn't 'The Goonies'. It's real, raw, authentic - and hopefully cathartic for Raj. Though sprinkled with well-crafted satire, it is ultimately not sugarcoated. What this constitutes, in my opinion, is a perspective rarely broadcast. And after a glance around the auditorium, one that's not only confronting, but incontrovertibly captivating.