Saturday, January 07, 2012

Criticism and otherwise

OK. Since there are some questions on this particular paragraph in the previous post and tweets that I have posted which might sound similar to this. 

One of the things I feel is missing today, in this era of super-fast attempted comprehension and hence I believe what has actually been communicated in black and white is being happily misinterpreted. People are in a hurry to read, in a hurry to understand and in a hurry to interpreter in their own words. Not much reading. Not much reflection is happening. I realized I was speed reading and missing the point once in a while and realized I would read anything, be it a tweet or a newspaper when I can devote those minutes to reading the written word.

Now coming back to the paragraph that I started off about at the beginning of this post

"I ll tweet, maybe blog about issues closest to my heart, raise funds and spread word for causes. And might even go support Anna Hazare and sit on a fast. But that is all. If you are one to say, "Oh, if you can't change the system by joining it, don't complain". If you say that, Would you accept it if I say, for example, "Dont criticize a film or say that it is bad or a song is bad unless and until you can compose or come up with something better."

The question was "Would you accept it if I said you cannot criticize a film?" I didn't say don't criticize. I am nobody to tell anyone don't criticize. In the same vein, I would also say that it is in my purview to accept something as criticism or, to put it plainly, brush it aside as bullshitting and I think the sense of faux satisfaction that a layman turned 'critic' gets by just word-lashing someone in the name of 'constructive criticism'. 

I am brought up to take criticism. In my entire life I have hardly heard even a fraction of the compliments or praise that the next contestant in a reality show today would have heard. I have been raised and now also proudly belong to a school of thought which believes a talented child should not be praised on the face and that it would lead to the child stagnating. (This is an entirely different topic - my mom is the right person to blog about this - And then I have the special talent of meandering here and there before I come to the point on most of my posts. So, if you are not new to my blog, you would probably smile and say 'yeah'. Or if you hate my guts, you'd curse me and read on anyway :p)

Now for this question of criticism and taking it.

I guess blogging and tweeting and everything else has opened the floodgates of brash expression, on a not so new platform. Everyone is proud of being outspoken, 'honest', straightforward and similes thereof. A lot of people are wannabe journalists. A lot of people are wannabe critics. 

That said, I am also the person who sometimes has wondered about the expertise/scholarship of a present day critic even in a reputed newspaper. I wonder what they base their opinion on. Not of the truly learned critic of a different era. 

I humbly believe that watching every film that releases and having an opinion does not make someone a critic. So here you may ask, OK Miss I-refuse-to-get-down-from-my-high-horses, what is your exalted opinion on what a critic should be?

I haven't defined the perfect critic yet. But I think they are someone who is as honest (what am I asking for?), free of personal bias (what am I asking for, again?), has to be an expert on the subject (IMHumbleOpinion) especially the third point if they are going all out to denounce someone or something and if they are, they must justify why they are doing it.If I were reading that piece it would definitely finally rest in my mind whether I accept the reasons or not. We are all judges of something or the other at various points in everyday life.

I have taken advise from the people who I know only want the best from me and of me. My mother always said, "azha azha solluva tham manusha, ooru sirikka sirikka paesum" I know that, I realize that too.

I know that the very same people who might compliment me today on the blog or on twitter or organically might actually believe a piece of crappy gossip, repeat it in various places and hold me guilty until innocent. The benefit of doubt will never exist for someone who is in the public eye. I even say that if anyone were to see me in an accident and bleeding on the road, I would probably bet one of my prized possessions that most even if they recognize me, would only drive past. Because who would want to go get caught up with the police and the hospital and the responsibility that comes with it? Someone might call the ambulance but thats all. Because ultimately, none really cares for anyone except the family (if you are lucky) or the ones that truly love you. Everyone else are passing clouds.

That doesn't mean I am not grateful for the love and people who wish me well from wherever they are. The good energy that comes my way or the people that genuinely pray for my well being. 
But just looking at all this with a sense of detachment. Life remains a lone journey. Sometimes you might have people who might travel a certain distance with you but that's all there is to it. 

As for why I don't talk about other music albums or films -

I don't even mention which movie I watch or which album I have heard these days because people ask me for my opinion. And most people don't want to accept it if I said I liked the album. Or a film. It is the age of sensationalism and people wanting to become news-makers (by making up news at times) and news-breakers. A good number of average tweeters and bloggers today wants to compete with no less than the NDTVs and CNNs of the world in 'Breaking News'. 

I guess like everything that goes through growth, peaks and rattles or whatever and then settles, this obsession with wanting to share everything and wanting to opine on everything under the sun will soon hit a saturation point on the social media.

I don't think blogging is journalism. Just like how a diary cannot be called a book or a piece of literature. A weblog is a weblog is a weblog. Call it whatever. Host it wherever. It is a personal opinion. Some blogs might have research, might have supporting data for the veracity of the claims. But then, hey, if I change this opinion in the future and you see a post which might be contradictory to this, don't kill me. Man is supposed to learn, evolve and change. 

I also find it absurd when people ask "You said this then, you changed your mind now" Or "this model said she wont act. Now she is acting". Or some such thing. So what? Is it the end of the world? Their life. Their choices. Their mind. They can maintain it, change it, not change it, whatever. And again, its their life :)

Coming back, even if I don't like something that has come from an artiste/book after having become involved in this industry, seeing how people struggle, how much a director or every technician goes through, anyone who has their heart in the right place would never criticize publicly. It doesn't mean artistes don't get negative comments or that people in the industry only keep praising each other. Na. On the contrary, I would daresay that most of the people that I have met in this business of films are happy enough to discuss what they liked/didn't like about each others' work of art over a cup of coffee or a phone call. Just that they don't let the general public know. And at the end of the day, everyone doesn't need to know everything. :) No? :)

And likewise, it makes perfect sense for me to just make a call/send an SMS or an email to someone if I had a problem with a certain thought. I definitely can let them know straight away instead of making a huge scene about it with total strangers. I somehow believe in the idea of praise in public and criticize in private.

P.S.: To those who might follow me on twitter and may even point out that a friend of mine is doing this or that, if I disagree with my friend, I ll do it in private. Never in public. And I ll never let a friend down in public. Loyalist that I am :)


.. said...

ur friends r lucky .. The last line is sobloody touching.. U wouldnt leav ur friends down. And for normal non-celebrity people llike me., im overwhelmed u act down to earth. Chinmayi u'd achiev fiats with this attitude! Chuk.. Right frm mind and heart. Nothing hidden. Perfect example of hw a tweet shud be, hw a blog shud be, hw a celebrity shud be and hw a ceo shud be! Im so so proud i came to knw more abt u thru ur tweets and blogs and tv-books interviews. It was always a pleasure reading those! Sorta vibrant and energitic!
Ur indeed a gem, a precious gem!!! Big hugs and cheeers.

The Freudian Couch said...

Good one. But, you seem to have something against "layman turned", "wannabe critics" who criticize films without understanding the difficulties of a filmmaker. Agreed, but don't filmmakers do they same? Cops, College professors, Goverment officials and many others are typecast in almost all movies. Do all filmmakers try to understand the difficulties of these jobs?

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Adarsh: I have nothing against anyone layman turned critic or any critic. As I said this is a blog where I am wondering about some things.
As for characters in films, unless stated otherwise, it is a work of fiction. Just like you don't take take any crime novel too seriously and become paranoid, watch a film clap laugh hate it whatever and move on.

Rakesh said...

Good blog- In my opinion - It's far easier to write why something is terrible than why it's good. If you're reviewing a film and you decide "This is a movie I don't like," basically you can take every element of the film and find the obvious flaw, or argue that it seems ridiculous, or like a parody of itself, or that it's not as good as something similar that was done in a previous film. What's hard to do is describe why you like something. Because ultimately, the reason things move people is very amorphous. You can be cerebral about things you hate, but most of the things you like tend to be very emotive.Cheers!!

Anonymous said...

"I somehow believe in the idea of praise in public and criticize in private. Loyalist that I am...:)"

So Mai! U better be ready to face the fate of Loyalists Like KARNA, DRONACHARYA & BHISMA.

MissAmbiguity said...

Loved the part : "And at the end of the day, everyone doesn't need to know everything. " Exactly what I said to amma 2 days back when we spoke of something.. May I add: " If you are slated to know something, you will know it at the right time from the right person."

sathyanarayan said...

hi chinmayi,
On a lighter vein,
quote from ur blog "I also find it absurd when people ask You said.... So what? Is it the end of the world? Their life. Their choices. Their mind. They can maintain it, change it, not change it, whatever. And again, its their life :)"

how can u say its absurd!!!....take the case of That Pontiff sensationalized by Sun-TV news channel.. can anyone call this absurd if we say how could he do such thing!!!!

Harikrishnan said...

Criticism is when you give your opinion or judgment about the good or bad qualities of something or someone.The word is often taken to mean the simple expression of an objection against prejudice.

Genuine Criticism helps us to know our weakness. We have do self analysis and strengthen ourselfs. My sincere suggestion is that you take up criticism from legitimate sources :)

பவித்ரா said...

U r perfect woman i have ever met. hats off. whoever ask me who is my rolemodel, i am dare to say its CHINMAYI without any regret. a perfect woman. Amma was lucky to have u as her daughter. U are lucky to have her as ur mother. Both are blessed siblings of God. God bless you.

AnithaVeeravendhan said...

"Life remains a lone journey. Sometimes you might have people who might travel a certain distance with you but that's all there is to it."

Absolutely true. But memories remain.some happy,some haunting, some soothing, some yearning for more....
Today is my birthday. In a retrospective mood. what am i in other people's memory? very scary.
with love,

Wanderer said...

Social media is the latest version of a canteen or a adda where anyone and everyone will express their voice(not exactly their own opinion), either going along with the crowd or take an opposite stance just for the heck of it. Probably they would have stated themselves differently in private. This does not mean they are by nature bad people. BTW have you noticed the way people behaving differently in public from the way they do at home. No one uses curse words in front of their parents or children. I have seen that even the school bully is a timid boy at home, shivering in front of his mom, who was scolding him for not completing his homework.

Twitter is mostly a time-pass phenomenon and would fade out when the next wave comes up. So, just chill out and take things easy.

You have definitely started this New Year with a flurry of words and expecting more from you.

Happy New Year!

Priya Karthickeyan said...

Chinmayi, Thanks for replying to me and to the many who raised the same issue. If you define that only a qualified critic who fits in your critic character should review a movie or publish his/her positive/negative comment, I am sorry movies are made for pure entertainment and for the Layman turned critic whose opinion matters a lot. I'm wondering if the film industry is ready to make any movie only for the well-qualified critic you mentioned? Audience will never claim that they are the best critic after watching every movie but why the movie is made if the success/failure cannot be measured based on opinions? So eventually there is a purpose behind sharing opinion about movies end of the day. As you mentioned, this is not the end of the world. You have your life to live like everyone does.

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Priya: As a P.S. movies are not made for pure entertainment. Movies are made for various reasons :) Of course your definition of entertainment and the next person's would vary.

For example, if a piece of music moves you to tears would you call that 'entertainment'?
Or is it the song that makes you dance that you call entertainment?

I would love to know what entertainment means to you or your definition of it.

whattonameit said...

Priya: It is clear from your comment that no one wants to learn at all. But loves to comment. I have nothing against the layman. I am criticizing the layman who thinks he is an expert. I hope you get the point. Nonetheless, this conversation is going nowhere. :) Thanks

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

And as for misinterpretation, I don't trust you or anyone else. You are a total stranger, I have no clue about. God knows what you guys talk about. And I cannot be worried about it either :) Our goals are different :)

Ganesh said...

Hi Chinmayi

You must have been a talented kid at school. You would have participated in school/inter-school competitions and obviously you would have won many of them. All the prizes and certificates you would have received are kind of praising the talent right?

Arun said...

:) You've seldom been unreasonable to say the least. You've been brought up to take criticism!
I tend to agree.
You've been a performer who, to what you seem, wants to excel in everything you interestedly take up. Interest matters doesn't it? I've observed you for sometime now, only through your blogs and tweets though, and can honestly say that I've taken you as my role model at least in what I can probabably accomplish. I perhaps can not get to be a VJ, RJ, Singer or an ardent Baker...forget par excellence, but perhaps be a better human being and a decent enterpreneur someday.

Now, coming to what I wanted to say.., For someone like you, I would tend to think, it might not be
affecting your morale when you are criticized. The reasons..., I've already mentioned above.
However, in reality there are too many variables that may be responsible for something for the way it is.
Being persistently severe on someone for what he is can further have a negative effect not allowing him get any better. There are, relatively, but only a few cases when criticism has had someone perform. But then,
that need not have been sustained and could've been one-off occurances.

To me, I would not want to be critical on someone/something, forget if it is right/wrong and that if I am qualified to be. At least, I am all with myself and do not hurt others though it is often pressing to face all the thoughtless bash and still be calm.
I would like to practice being this. One day, I hope there will be someone who took notice and perhaps followed.


Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Ganesh: Only a few because my mom wasnt keen on my taking part in competition and as she said "its like among blind one eyed is the genius. No need to go and compete in a competition and if you win you ll believe you are very good, when you have hardly learned anything" I come from that sort of an upbringing. however, what are you getting at? :)

And at competitions no one comes to you and praises you. They give you a cert and thats all there is to it.

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Priya: For the last time. I have said this in the blog. I am repeating so that you ll understand. I will take criticism. But not bullshit from a person who thinks he is a 'learned' critic. get the point? And as for where I am today, it comes from working hard on anything. Everything else follows. And I also know that everything is transient. To say that we exist because of you, or anyone else, is strange. I ll sing and continue to learn, whether you (and I dont mean You here) are there, or inspite of you.

As for absolutely sincere criticism founded in honesty and good intention, I am the winner when I learn and take and finally trounce the critic. Like they say the teacher is happy when the student surpasses him. Of course I have met enough 'critics' who hate it when an artiste grows. From this side of the world, you ll have to also accept that there are experiences that I speak from that you have not been privy to.

Thanks for the time.

Ganesh said...


Thanks for replying. It feels good to be responded to.

I think perhaps, you didn't find time to hear them (the prizes and certificates) say 'Chinmayi ! You are rocking. Keep it up and keep going' :-)

My Best wishes to you. Keep writing and tweeting.

Akash said...

Rightly said. I shouldn't be surprised or perhaps shocked if you end up acting in films. As I'm not being followed as vigourously as you are I might very well talk about people's choices. Thats exactly why I think I can take more freedom on my opinions about others. Anonymity has its share of advantages. Call it cowardice or gutlessness. I wouldn't bother at all.

PurpleHeart said... a sporadic follower of your blog over the last several years, I have always ended up feeling this way over by the last line of your posts - why is it that I think you seem to have an overall low opinion of the so-called 'aam janta' or their freedom of expression (with - of course -exceptions of a few great ones that you have met)? People blog, people tweet, people comment, people like or dislike things not because they have nothing better to do. What we need is a society that's unabashedly open.We all have the right to express our opinion. It's like a cuppa veggie to health, never sweet but that's what helps you grow. And India does live by that. Agreed, we need more people who actually get down in the mud to WALK the talk. But that doesn't necessarily mean they need to shut themselves up. Without our voices, we would all be mere machines . We have over 1.2 billion voices, not all politically correct all the time but if we were to keep our opinions private, we would have lost our democracy several hundred years ago.

Golden Snake said...

Movies and music are made for entertaining laymen according to most movie and music directors. End of the day whoever bought a movie ticket or a music CD has all the right to comment or opine about it. It does not mean they are critics. If a fan liked Sindhu Bhairavi movie & music and says it out loud in public, he/she is saying it because he/she is entertained by the music and movie. It does not mean he/she is a critic with experience in movie making or singing Carnatic songs. An artiste is open to comments from both critic and fans. And there is a difference between abusive and negative comments. It is up to the artiste to take them seriously or in a lighter vein.

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Purple Heart: I dont know how many more times I have to repeat since no one seems to get it or just simply doesnt want to read but rather keep judging, again and again and again. Please read it in my own comment if you scroll up.

Now, I have NOTHING AGAINST THE LAYMAN COMMENT. I have axes to grind against an IDIOT who feigns to be an expert and who faffs. I said I will not take bullshit. But I ll take criticism.

And carrot/tomato and so many vegetables taste good my dear :)

And as a voice in the same 1.2 billion, I am not entitled to an opinion and blog about what I feel in a domain that I own? Or am I just expected to kiss feet just because I am perceived to be a celeb, be politically correct (Not to mention that is the most advantageous thing for me. Discussing/debating is not going to give you or anyone else any great opinion about me, not that I want to be the 'Oh she is soooooo sweet kinda girl' :)

I don't want and it is bizarre to even think that people should shut up. But I hate it when someone in the name of a fan goes and slanders another artiste. Or spreads rumours about a film or sends the climax of a film as an sms everywhere and the thief in every movie goer who watches the film for free on the internet. I have an issue with people who learn the 'raga' based on a few film songs and claim he is an expert in classical music. The person who would have just said hi to a celebrity and acted as if he knows them in and out. And I, like any other citizen who pays taxes, votes, I can ask/question about why people do a certain thing. No?

Or am I not supposed/allowed to?

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Golden Snake: For example let's say if you receive 10 or 20 abusive comments a day, I'd like to know how long you can take it in a lighter vein. Not that I get that many. But I have had my share of crazy stalkers too.

The wearer knows where the shoe pinches. It is easy for the person to tell someone who is going through anything, to just say this too shall pass. Not that we don't appreciate it. But just saying sometimes advise/solace doesn't really help :)

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Golden Snake: And as I have explained in deeeetail in the previous comment to Purple heart, I am sure you'll know my stand against people who opine as against the fake/wannabe/pretending-to-be-expert-all-knowing idiot. :)

Golden Snake said...

Hmmm.. If the commenters are abusive you can always block them or disapprove their comments. #justsaying

saranya said...

Well, to be honest, this is why most of the celebrities are not as available as you are to take comments/opinions. Even then the media/people are still managing to spread rumours/news about celebs whether or not they are true. So you can imagine how much you will hear/read as a celeb who writes blogs especially of your opinions on an almost weekly basis. Adding spice to that, if you complain (sorry if this is not the right term) about those particular stupids who comment bad stuff in a whole context directing towards your fans in a generalisation, fans like us who really do admire you feel a bit like "she doesn't like us". I am not saying you should say you love your fans OR you are who you are now because of us...! I don't agree with it anyway. But wherever in this world, a celebrity does get both a lover and a hater (in terms of fans)...same as you walk in the streets where you find people who can steal your things..and on the other hand people who can call after u and give ur purse if u dropped it.
I don't know if I am saying too much to a person like you who knows much more than I do about a life of a celebrity. But with the little knowledge I have, and as a fan of yours I thought to share this with you. (and I am sure the number of genuine fans are many many times higher than those pipsqueaks who bother you)...

Bleeding words said...


My mom used to tell the exact lines when I am in low spirits, if my parents advice on certain things.

Anonymous said...

Your blogs are interesting to read. They are more personal and straightforward than many other musings I have read.

Having no idea of artists' lives, I can only say that from reading your blog, artists as a group are challenged with a great variety of thoughts and comments, and have to spend a lot more effort on presentation.

"Just that they don't let the general public know. And at the end of the day, everyone doesn't need to know everything. :) No? :)" - LOL. Poetic, nailed it.