This post comes on the request of my dear friend cum senior Vikas Chandani. I wasn't very surprised by this idea because that's his favourite topic. I reckon he just wants to see how I approach this unexplored topic of criticism. So here it goes.
"I liked the surprises you pour into the plot", she says. "But why is there always a mythological connection to your stories? I mean, the way you approach myths is nice and all, but after a while people will get bored."
"And when they do, they'll read some book from some other genre", I grin. "When you get bored from the show, you change the channel."
"That's what I'd expect from anyone else, but you are not just anyone. You are special, you have to be. So why not make yourself so good that people never get bored."
And that's when I am left speechless. The critique, the discussion that follows, and then the wrap-up point that you just can't counter. My friend who appears in this scene is one person you'll never win an argument against.
"For all I know, you could make a better writer than me if you put your head into it", I concede. "You should try writing something, someday."
"Nah, I don't know. Maybe I am too lazy to do that. Even if I sit down to write, no ideas will come into my head."
I may motivate her to write something, easily. But she won't write anything, or maybe won't show me what she came up with. Some people are like that. They are better at judging than they are at performing.
Now you may have all kinds of opinion on such people, but my opinion is that of a writer. Every person I see is either a character or an idea. And there are no such things as bad ideas. There are ideas which are convenient to us and ideas that are troublesome. And the same goes to people.
In our society, critics are mostly seen as good-for-nothing folks who pass the time pissing people off. After all, anyone can criticize. Little kids who roam around spinning bicycle tyres with a stick become the experts when they see a cricket match ("Abe square cut lagana tha na" - as if the Dhoni will hear them on the field). Old, retired people talk about government policies all the time. Housewives talk about each other's behaviour in their free hours. In short, anyone and everyone who has wee hours with nothing to do becomes a critic.
And they are treated no better. In our society at least, there is this notion that if you want to criticise someone about something, you must be better than them. Any other possibility leads to a serious abusive conflict where people take the fight to each other's status/power/money/respectability. The best examples are film and book critics. Every time a critic trashes a movie or a book, the stars get back at them with caustic remarks, unfailingly. After all, critics are a talentless species who scorn people to make a living, aren't they?
I say it depends on the attitude, both that of the critic and the one facing criticism. Sachin Tendulkar said - "People threw stones at me, I turned them into milestones". And he had his fair share of critics. Now it is understandable to get angry when someone criticises you without knowing what you face every day, but the difference between just about anyone and you is how you handle adversity. And not all critics are your enemies.
I believe that we learn only when we are criticised. It's the law of friction, you can't move forward as long as there is some force pulling you backwards. If someone tells you what to do, it's your choice whether to follow the advice or ignore it. But hating people for not minding their own business is a waste of your time and energy. It only makes you less efficient.
That is criticism. It's friction, or aerial drag. It seems to oppose you, but it stabilizes you as well. Depends on how you handle it.
If you like my blog please feel free to comment.