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Criticism: Killer or Healer?

January 16, 2014

Satyajit Ray used to invite criticism in the most vitriolic terms. From comments he would glean out sufficient inspiration so that his finished product would be a masterpiece.

By Bhawna Gupta

OpinionThe story goes that the famous film director Satyajit Ray after writing the script and music scores for his next film would take his paper to his favorite haunt, the Coffee House on College Street, Calcutta to show them to his friends and critics for their comments.

He would in fact invite criticism in the most vitriolic terms. From their comments he would glean out sufficient inspiration so that his finished product would be a masterpiece. Is this a sign of slaying initiative?

There is another story about the convicted criminal whose last wish before going to the gallows was to see his mother. And when his request was acceded to, he bit off the old lady’s ear. The jail superintendent asked him why he had indulged in such a gruesome act, even as he was about to meet his maker.

The convict replied, had he been punished as a child not to indulge in petty thefts he would have never graduated to more heinous crimes which would finally put the noose around his neck. Was condemnation not called for?

Criticism and condemnation have their own place in life and in no way can they be held responsible for threatening initiative. In our own present day society, criticism is certainly a must.

One shudders to think what would have happened to us by now — no freedom of expression forever. Glancing over your shoulders to see that you are not charged with defamation and faced with interminable encrustation.

Young Copernicus had the temerity to question the then prevalent views that the earth was a flat round disc. He was stoned and condemned to eternal perfidy. This in no way dampened the spirit of the scientist.

In fact it goaded him on to newer pastures where he could prove that the earth was an orange shape ball in the solar system. His contribution to science stands vindicated today. Was this a sign of dead initiative after condemnation?

My views on the subject may be criticized and I may be condemned. But I stand firm that criticism is one aspect of life which adds many new dimensions to the concept related.

As George Bernard Shaw said — “Criticism adds a new dimension to vision” and if taken in the right perspective it helps us reach new horizon!

This piece of writing was first published in Meghdutam.com (between 1999 to 2002).

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