You say either and I say Either, you say, either and I say neither. Either, either neither, neither. You like potato and I like potahto, you like tomato and I like tomahto.
Potato, potahto, Tomato, tomahto.. Let’s call off this entire thing.”
A great song, it’s one of my favourites and is the story of my life for sure. But my ditty goes another way. My film, 1920 is doing well and all that happiness and good cheer following that, but there was something else that was dragged in as well — the criticism that follows with anything that you do.
So there was one guy who wrote to me and suggested a list of things that I could have done better. He wrote the letter in English. The grammar he used would make even a second grade student go red with embarrassment.
Tired of taking criticism on my chin, I decided to get nasty and wrote back saying, “I will definitely try to improve my cinematic skills. But when it’s so difficult for you to get a simple letter right, your English is despicable, then how could you expect me to get a film right?”
So deeply troubled was this soul that he could not help writing again and again, to me to tell me how he was really very good at the English language and he wasn’t riff-raff. I was amused.
Criticising me had been so simple for him but when it came to taking criticism, it was so difficult for him. Then I wrote back to him to placate him. I assured him that I was just joking. I think his shattered self-esteem glued itself a tad and he let me go.
So my musings this Sunday morning are — is it possible to like someone who criticises you? Is there something called ‘honest criticism’?
For the first part, I think there are job profiles that require one to possess criticism-bearing skills. Politics, movies and cooking — the tragedy of life is that whenever you have a job that has anything to do with pleasing people, you should be ready for their displeasure also.
This, in turn, invites their wrath.. and thereby their criticism. When you want to make a career out of pleasing people, you are paid to learn where you’ve gone wrong. So, criticism is a part of your job profile. And yes, you also have to take it.
But the difficult bit is to like the person who criticises you. In my line of work, everyone has an idea and everyone has an opinion. Very often, their opinion is not the same as yours and still you have to work with them.
But working with them is not enough. Because to work with them you have to like them. And here comes the second part — is there anything called honest criticism?
Anyone who knows you besides your work cannot be honest with their criticism. The audience that knows you only for your work can be completely fair.
Other than that I don’t think there is anything like honest criticism. The critic always has an agenda. Some people can never go wrong and some people can never go right.
Criticism and perception go hand in hand. But to live in this world and work, there’s only one dictum that you can follow
— agree to disagree.