Kaptains of Kozhikode – Rahul Thanugula – The Adept Artist

In today’s world, ‘talent’ & ‘versatility’ are the two secret ingredients of a successful career. The diversity of your interests & hobbies says a lot about you & to a certain extent, gives you that much-needed edge over your peers. Rahul Thanugula, a talented sketcher, an expert in playing different musical instruments & an occasional mimic explains how an artistic inclination in life always helps.



1. Well, I’m sure a lot of people would agree to me when I say that ‘you were born with a pencil in your hand’. Your paintings & sketches including the caricatures that you make are surreally real.

When did you start painting/sketching? Who is your role-model when it comes to ‘sketching’, which happens to be your favourite genre? Will you ever be willing to adopt it as a full time career? 

First of all, thank you for the compliments, Venu. Sketching is indeed my favourite form of art as of now. Sub-genres of my interest are landscapes & human-forms (which include caricatures). I used to draw still-life during my early childhood but was not very serious about all this then. Not until, say, a year ago.  But now, I spend several hours a week to practice different styles & techniques by taking inspiration from online sources. It is difficult to choose one out of the many artists that I admire but nevertheless, if I still have to pick one, it has to be the legendary cartoonist Shri. R. K. Laxman. The simplicity & the ease with which he fuses various social & political issues in his cartoons is awe-inspiring. I cannot help but mention that his illustrations for the ‘Malgudi Days’ will remain in my heart forever.





Everyone loves to make a profession out of their passion but becoming financially successful in the field of arts is still very difficult in our country. As on today, I don’t have any plans of taking up sketching as a full-time career. However, in future, I may think of pursuing it as a part-time career. But as far as my short term plans are concerned, I will continue to learn & practice the art. I am keen on learning oil-painting professionally.


2. Music, as they say, is the strongest form of magic. IIM Kozhikode gives ample opportunities to all its music enthusiasts to nurture & showcase their talents.

You are a regular performer at the musical programmes that are held in college. You play a lot many instruments – Keyboard, Flute, Mouth Organ – to name a few. Have you leant these instruments professionally? Despite the busy B-School schedules, you still manage to take time out to practice, participate & perform. How do you do that?

I completely agree with you. IIM Kozhikode does provide ample opportunities to hone our abilities. A lot of it can be attributed to the overall college environment. There is immense scope of learning from peers especially for people who don’t have any professional training but yet, want to learn the art. Luckily many of my batch-mates are highly knowledgable with respect to music. Also, we have many occasions where we get a chance to perform on stage. I also cannot forget to acknowledge the contribution of our college’s music club – Krescendo that leaves no stone unturned to promote the interest for music in campus.




I don’t have any formal training in music. I’ve learnt most of it from online resources (Special thanks to YouTube.com). It all started with buying a Harmonica (Because, Harmonica was ‘cheaper’ & did not have the potential to burn a hole in my pocket!). I used to play some tunes from movies using it. Then I was introduced to Flute by a friend, which I have to say, was initially very difficult to play. Later, I met a recording artist at his studio where I got a chance to play the Keyboard. That is when I discovered that the Keyboard can serve to be my personalized tutor with the potential to acquaint me to the basics of music (basics like pitches, scales, octaves etc.). Since then, I started practicing all the three instruments in parallel.  But last year, I decided to spend more time with the Flute & it still is my primary focus right now. I love the sound that it produces & furthermore, I believe it is one of the most versatile instruments with the capability of producing the ‘magic’ we associate with music.




It would be appropriate here to say that music like any art form requires continuous practice. Therefore, despite the busy academic schedule, I try to dedicate some part of each day to music. Sometimes, I have to prioritize my activities & there are sleepless nights too, but I never miss spending my precious few hours with music. There is no deviation whatsoever, at least in this regard. 

3. You have a fair amount of work experience with companies like HPCL. Do you think proximity to art helps people progress in the professional world? What message would you like to give to others who are apprehensive about pursuing their hobbies after entering the big, bad corporate world? 

As someone has rightly said – “Art is a means to escape the world without actually leaving your home”. One thing that every school teaches is that the extra-curricular activities are required to refresh minds & make children perform better in academics. Same holds true when we take up professional responsibilities. We all need an escape window from the daily work burdens. That is why people party & visit places to relax.  Art can be one of such many revitalizing activities. It can provide a peace of mind & impart a sense of satisfaction. Moreover, engaging in arts keeps our creative instincts intact & also helps us maintain the drive to take-up challenging tasks, which again is one of the important requirements at workplaces. However, I can’t vouch, not as of now, that indulging in arts will substantially add to the progress in professional world. At least not for everyone, considering that every profession is unique & demands a different set of skills. It is not in every case that our hobbies are relevant to our work place. But again, there is nothing wrong in spending time in arts.

You are right when you say that a few people are apprehensive about pursuing their hobbies once they get busy with their professional life. There are many reasons for doing so. Sometimes, it is simply because after tedious stints at offices people face difficulties in finding time & energy for any other activities, leave alone hobbies. What I feel is that a little amount of time per day should not be a trouble. If not 10 hours a day, 10 minutes should be okay. In other cases, it could be because of lack of encouragement & inspiration. It is necessary to stay engaged with our interests. For example, a person with interest in painting can visit art museums & exhibitions & of course, browse through artworks over the Internet. Due to advancements happening in the digital world today, everything is just a click away. One can always follow blogs & pages pertaining to their interests.

 – Venu Merh


Venu Merh

About Venu

An Upantya Visharad in Hidustani Sangeet and in Bharatnatyam, Venu has been the epitome of versatility and consistency throughout school and college life. An EC engineer, she was a member of AIESEC & NU Tech where she managed various activities. She is a big Sheldon Cooper fan, loves micro blogging and working for stray animal welfare. She is currently a management student at IIM Kozhikode (Class of 2015).

Twitter handle – @foodasaur

You can read all stories by Venu here. Follow her on venu.insideiim.com

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Venu Merh

An Upantya Visharad in Hidustani Sangeet and in Bharatnatyam, Venu has been the epitome of versatility and consistency throughout school and college life. An EC engineer, she was a member of AIESEC & NU Tech where she managed various activities. She loves micro blogging and working for stray animal welfare. She is currently a management student at IIM Kozhikode (Class of 2015). You can read all her stories here. Twitter handle - @foodasaur