|Anton Ego, the critic from Ratatouille!|
In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new, an extra-ordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau's, who is, in this critic's opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau's soon, hungry for more.Do watch it on youtube here. This is writing at its finest. This is voice-over artistry at its best. This is story telling at its peak. This, this has to be one of the most powerful scenes I have ever seen in any movie.
So, the why do I want to talk about it?
Couple of reasons.
A, I loved the writing. So much so that I wish that I had written it. I am selfish like that. I hope that Nidhi's story turns out half as good.
B, I am at a point in The Nidhi Kapoor Story where I am questioning the damn reason why I even picked up the project in the first place. I dont know why would someone want to read a cliched story of an actress and a police inspector. In fact, I am sure if someone gave me the book, I wouldn't read it myself. I am actually worried that its going to be so bad that I would become the laughing stock of the entire town. And I am going to be scarred for the rest of my life (or whatever is left of it). Its going to be so bad that I may not want to write my personal blog either after all the Antons blast me for my badly written first book.
But at the same time, the little speech by Anton gives me a lot of heart as well. Like he says, all critics, they "risk very little". And "the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than [their] criticism". I am filled with hope that my little Nidhi Kapoor story has some meaning in the large scheme of things. Even if its helping me put a tick mark on my bucket list.
And not to discredit these critics, I think they have an important role to play in the entire process. An honest critic and critique could give that nudge that an artist requires to bridge the gap between being good and great. Anton was being harsh because, like he said, "If I don't love it, I don't swallow". Loosely interpreted, it means that if he does not like what he eats, hes overtly harsh at it. And this makes chefs try harder to please him. Similarly a good book critic can actually help bring out the best in a writer. I think in all these years since I have been writing, I have not had a critic to help me, to nudge me, to prod me.
In fact with Nidhi Kapoor, I am looking forward to getting other people to review my work. Thankfully most of these first critics would be my friends and hence I assume that I'd have a pretty long leash with mistakes. Lets see if I can get an Anton Ego to help me make the story any better.
And btw, here's a deal. If you think you want to play Anton, please do let me know.
P.S.: I cant seem to pronounce the name of the rat movie, even after trying so many times. And no, not wrong pronunciation, my tongue falters and I pronounce it as "rat-tat-tool-lee".