Friday, February 23, 2018

From Harvard to Hollywood: Q&A with Roshan Sethi, MD


Not only is Roshan Sethi, MD, a Harvard Radiation Oncology Program (HROP) resident, he also is a co-producer and writer for the new television show, “The Resident,” which premiered Jan. 21. The show is described by reviewers as a powerful new medical drama focusing on the final years of a young doctor’s training that rips back the curtain to reveal the truth of what really happens, both good and bad. Sethi offered an inside look at how he got started and how he balances it all.

How did you get involved in television?
As a medical student, I cold-called–and emailed and Facebook messaged–producers until I found someone willing to take me on as a medical consultant. Then I wrote a sample that got me an agent, and then I became a writer. I had no connections to Hollywood, but medicine was my foot in the door.

What is your favorite part about writing/consulting for a show?
I like screenwriting in general because you have to work with so many other artists to realize your vision – everyone from the prop master to the actors. It’s less solitary than, say, novel writing.

I don’t consult at all anymore. There was a team of doctors working on “The Resident,” and I did none of the medicine. I mostly do the soap and comedy scenes. In the case of “The Resident,” I wrote the pilot with two other writers, which made me a “creator.” Then I was nominally involved with the remaining episodes because I had to return to residency. I’ve only seen the pilot. I stopped doing any writing after the seventh episode.

How do you balance being a resident and co-writing/producing?
It’s very difficult. I get up early every morning and write for two hours before heading to the hospital. I’m lucky HROP allowed me to take a year off. I produced the pilot, and though I’m credited as a producer for the entire first season, I really didn’t produce anything else, because I couldn’t. As the creator, I’ll have “created by” and producing credit for the remainder of the show. I could have remained involved with the show for longer, but my first priority is my residency.

Did you pull any inspiration for the show from your experience at the MGH or Brigham and Women’s Hospital?
Not at all. Most of the stories came from books.

Who is your favorite character on “The Resident” and why?
Mina, because she’s blunt and direct and gets things done.

Any future projects you can tell us about?
I have two other TV shows in development – a miniseries with Ellen Page about Sally Ride, the first female U.S. astronaut, and a Bollywood-themed musical show. I’ve written eight movies, but only three are in active development. They’re all supposed to shoot this year.

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