Book review: 42 Things I Learnt from Bollywood
42 Things I Learnt from Bollywood
Sahil Rizwan’s 42 Things I Learnt from Bollywood will give fans of the author – already internet-famous for his comic-strip film reviews published under the name The Vigil Idiot – hours of reading pleasure: imagine page upon page populated with stick figures, all spouting funny aphorisms.
In his debut book, Rizwan tears with relish into the Bollywood films of the 1990s – the ones he “grew up watching”.
Each chapter is a trip down memory lane, taking readers into an era when Rahul Roy was the country’s biggest superstar, when kids hankered to watch Small Wonder on television and ate orange ice lollies sold by ice-cream vendors outside their school gates.
But that is where the nostalgia ends. What follows are scathing comic strips in which Rizwan rips apart the best and worst of the decade’s films in the most unapologetic way. Nothing is spared, from blockbusters such as Salman Khan’s Hum Aapke Hain Kaun...! to the box-office dud Kareeb, starring Bobby Deol.
Each movie is carefully chosen and mined for its illogical plot twists, then neatly summed up with a lesson (there are 42) such as: if you love something, set it free. But if you want it to come back, better make sure to exchange contact details first (the verdict on the 1999 Aamir Khan-Manisha Koirala drama Mann).
Among the hundreds of Bollywood film reviews in the print and digital world, Rizwan’s stand out for the stick-figure illustrations and their speech bubbles. Rani Mukerji in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, drawn with wings and a halo, tells her daughter: “Just help your sad panda father out, will ya”; while in Hum Aapke Hain Kaun...!, Salman Khan mutters: “Maybe if she didn’t wear flowing designer saris...” when his brother’s wife falls down a flight of stairs.
The book could have done with a little less colourful language, yet The Vigil Idiot’s diehard fan base is sure to lap it up. Refreshingly, there’s also a lot of celebrity bashing, which adds to the fun.
But in the end, Rizwan also confesses to being Bollywood’s biggest fan and says he would never want it to change its ways. We like that.
Updated: April 26, 2015 04:00 AM