New Delhi — If there's one thing that writer Sahil Rizwan, the hilarious force behind the cult comic The Vigil Idiot, has achieved — it's using stick figures to squelch the holy cows of one of the world's largest film industries. You could be a Khan or a Kapoor, starring in a U-rated, devotional drama, but in Rizwan's column, you would be a pair of beady eyes perched on a pair of stick legs mouthing the line 'pass the joint, dumbass'.
Vigil Idiot, launched in 2009, filled a gap in film reviewing that mainstream media failed to do.
It clicked because of three reasons - 1. its irreverence and generally astute observations about most films resonated with a new generation of cinema-goers who hated the supercilious tone often adopted by mainstream film critics to talk down to their audience, 2. the actual language used to review films, especially the stellar Bollywood duds, was both sarcastic and hilarious, and 3. the army of stick figures, with unsubtle individual quirks written in for each of them, were delightfully repugnant.
It's no surprise then, that Rizwan's new book '42 Lessons I Learnt From Bollywood' sticks to all of the holy traditions that made Vigil Idiot such a hit — it's a collection mocking some of the most colourful 90s films using explicit language. Published by HarperCollins India, Rizwan's book has stick figure reviews of Aaina, Daraar, Dewaana, Khal Nayak, Raja Hindustani and Hum Aapke Hai Koun among others.
Rizwan, who now works for Buzzfeed India, told HuffPost India that of all the films he reviewed he had the most fun pulling down Awwal Number, a 1990 film (directed by Dev Anand) starring Aamir Khan.
"Awwal Number is my favourite review, hands down. That film hits both the extremes of complete sincerity matched with absolutely insane, nonsense logic. It's the best!" Rizwan said.
"- I travel around Europe with a banjo in my backpack.
- What a ch****a"
"I think that decade was probably the easiest for reviewing because you could essentially use the same write up to review at least 10 other films. The only thing that changed were the actors, and sometimes not even that. Which isn't to say that there aren't formula films now (cough every South Indian remake cough), but the '90s was another level of copy-pasting," he said.
From making the transition from pencils to the messy fountain pens to the invasion of cable television, Rizwan associates defining moments from his growing up years with films that formed a part of them.
His book also decimates one of India's most loved films, a cinematic instruction manual for 'sanskari' lovers of all ages — Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge as is evident from these strips from Rizwan's book.
Let his stick characters do the talking for themselves.
Name of Book: 42 Lessons I Learnt From Bollywood
Author: Sahil Rizwan
Publishers: HarperCollins India
Paperback: 304 pages