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a recent interview

August 13, 2018


Money is something that one can Make or Ignore!

From Jansons School of Business (Autonomous)
Domain (The Journal of Management Research)                   Vol: 11 ~ Issue:1    Jan-Dec 2018
An interview with Dr. R.K. Rudhran
Consultant Psychiatrist with more than thirty years of experience.His forte is clinical psychiatry with emphasis on precise diagnosis and eclectic intervention strategies. He is the pioneer in using Drama Therapy in India. He is an artist, sculptor, poet, bilingual orator, writer & director of 12 stage plays which include adaptations of Kafka, Tamil versions of Sophocles and Shakespeare. He is the author of 14 books on Psychiatry, Philosophy and Theatre



“The moon has aged too, and became no more the romantic muse of adolescent attempts at poetry. My hair turns whiter every day, while my mind delves into days and dreams that I lived in my younger and younger days.”     -Rudhran



A Glimpse of My Younger Days:

From a childhood peppered with Perry Mason books, and the afterschool bus stand in front of the High Court in Chennai, came the initial wish to become a lawyer. Though my mother wanted me to become a doctor, the family background was simply a dampener to her dreams, and it was just good marks that put me in the great grounds of the Madras Medical College. After a tumultuous MBBS in which my rebellious nature and an inflated self-esteem based on self-belief, posed conflicts and problems with examiners, I finally started a modest general medical practice.

As luck would have it, I was quickly blessed with a fairly good number of patients and soon was busy throughout my clinic timings. I had managed even to save a decent amount in my first two years and it was then that I decided I would produce my stage play. I chose Apitha by LaSaRa, a novelette written almost in a stream of consciousness style. Scripted it for stage and even convinced the eminent musician M.B. Srinivasan to score and give me recorded music for the play. The play bombed. I did not have money to start another venture. The play also reduced my practice as I had taken off on many days to oversee rehearsals. I began to feel the economic pinch again in my life.

In my teens, in the early years of my MBBS, my family plunged so much into a financial pit that there were times when I would surreptiously peep into the kitchen and if the stove and the vessels were barren, would declare I am going out, and going out I looked and found many odd jobs – painting wall advertisements, working in a printing press and at times painting and selling my paintings in a store.

Psychiatry & Drama:

Through my teens, art and literature were my most trusted companions in moments of poverty’s pain, boredom and lonely contemplations. Psychology was naturally an allied interest and then I read Irving Stone’s ‘Passions of the Mind’. Psychiatry became my choice of specialization not just inspired by Freud, but also because it was a challenge- not the intrinsic clinical challenge of the specialty, but the huge challenge it faced with the still-present stigma and the abounding myths and misconceptions regarding the field amidst the public.

Theatre sparked my smothered embers and though there was no money to produce plays, I kept reading and creating characters and their dialogues in my mind. This led to trying to fathom their psyche, and like all I imagined that psychological medicine would be the best avenue for me to travel in the future.

Reading & Writing:

Post-graduation in Psychiatry had all the text books that mattered in psychology to be read, but the focus was on the clinical and medical part of psychology. I still remember the day when I almost thought a deluded paranoid person was speaking the truth and wanted the family to be reported! Within a few months of clinical psychiatry exposure, I fell in love with the subject. I did not need a stethoscope or an ophthalmoscope, I did not even need to do an X-ray investigation; all I needed was my mouth to ask and my brain to interpret. I felt relieved that I would not need much of an investment when I start my psychiatric practice!

I keep reading. When my reading becomes stalled and I find it laborious to go through words that are really worth reading, I resort to reading crime thrillers- finding clues before the author discloses them is as intriguing as listening to a patient tell his complaints and his story and seeing through the layers of defense that always dominate a psychiatric narration.

I keep painting and drawing though not for money anymore. With advent of digital art, it has become a daily ritual for me to sit in front of the monitor and let the mouse wander with colours. I keep writing, and the number of unfinished books may someday create a record!

Family Support:

My family was extremely supportive of whatever I did, because they were never given a chance to be otherwise! But, they were supportive in the sense that whatever I do they would try to engage themselves in a discussion with me, and those conversations were never to dissuade me though would always be cautioning me.

What motivates me?

My ‘self’. I love painting, I like writing and I live every moment I sit in my clinic. Only when there are no patients for me to see or when I am incapacitated physically to see any more patients will life cease to mean anything for me.

Why this passion? Though it started with an inquisitive thrill-seeking clamour, it has made me feel fulfilled. The smile I see when someone is told the treatment is over, the wet eyes that thank me for their recovery, the small presents (like home-grown vegetables) that those who are treated free come and give me, the moment when the day’s work is over in my clinic and I leave the room with a glad heart, are the ‘lub’ and ‘dub’ of my heart, to keep me alive and eager for the next working day.

My take on Failures:

Oh yes! I have faced failures -failures that follies always beckon. Ambitiously just four years after my psychiatric qualification, I started a nursing home, with a heavy bank loan. I had enough patients to fill all the beds, but the patients did not have money to pay me! Loan strangled me and at the same time newer medicines came into practice greatly reducing the need for admissions. I closed the nursing home with a tremendous loss. Had I been compromising on the ethics of my profession I may have escaped the loss but would have lost my face in front of my morning mirror.

Even in MBBS I faced failures in exams, never for not studying, but for not behaving properly, and the same continued in post-graduation too! Every time I fail, I think back and see if I would have done anything differently and till date the answer has always been ‘NO’.

My failures did not dent me; they cautioned me and made my vision deeper and sharper. I may still start something totally unnecessary in this stage of life, and I may mostly fail as I may not have the vigour and vitality needed, but I will not take that failure to the grave, rather, I would evaluate it and perhaps smile- as I can economically take some failures now.

My failures have always been economical rather than emotional and money is something that one can make or ignore.

My definition of Success:

Success to me is the smile I have when I look into the mirror and reflect on yesterday. That smile makes the beginning of every today a spark that would ignite a potent success. Success to me, is the feeling of contentment that comes with a job well done without compromise.

The One Big Lesson that Life has taught me:

Heraclitus has time and again proven to me that change is the only constant in life and life has proven again and again to me that I cannot step into the same river again. Time flows on and on giving a fleeting illusion that things are the same, and if this illusion were to determine your thought and action, you would step into the river of life and find it is not the same, and if diligent you might understand it can never be the same.

Every time I had a fall, I have risen, bouncing back like a rubber ball that is hit hard on the ground. There are times when I have risen to greater heights and times when I had to roll over as inept.

Life has taught me to not think back.

Many days and hours have been spent on unproductive ruminations of the past. Recalling glorious victories is as useless as sulking about disastrous failures.

Life has taught me to make the most of every moment.

Life has taught me to ‘see’ people – sometimes I see through them, sometimes I see beyond them and sometimes I see myself in them. Seeing is all that matters to live. Seeing is understanding and applying that understanding in the thought process.

Life has taught me to become more stoic when being epicurean was my desire.

Over the years I have learnt that like happiness, sadness is also fleeting. While the cup of joy never remains full so too is the cup of sorrow.

Life has taught me to live.

My Philosophy of Work

  •  My work is my meditation.        When I sit in my clinic, when I write and when I paint, none of the worries that normally fleet and cloud my empty hours would interfere. I would be focused and relaxed. That meditative state makes me comeback for more and more.
  •   If your work becomes your meditation, your success would become your enlightenment.

sushruta two months’ toil

August 19, 2015
sushruta by rudhran

sushruta by rudhran

it took me two months to paint and every day the couple of hours i spent on it were not exactly pleasant. i had all along been comfortable in speedy stokes and fast painting techniques.

this time the theme dictated that i take the old style of painting. it was not meant for the roving eyes of a critic or the raving eyes of a connoisseur it was meant to be on a wall of a medical college.

what made me suffer with performance anxiety was the fact that the college was my almamater- the great MMC, Madras Medical College.

i had dropped this style of painting nearly 40 years ago, and to push myself back in time and alter my style was not at all easy.

here is how the journey happened





the picture now hangs in the new building in the new premises of MMC