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Interview with Sahil Rizwan

What is a definition of a ‘Best Job’ for you? The person whom we have interviewed today can qualify for having one of the best jobs in the industry. Every weekend he watches movies and then reviews it in his unique style. He thinks he cannot get a better job than this. :) When we asked him for his introduction, he replies in SRK style, ‘My name is Sahil and my comics make people smile!’. He has set a new trend in the way people read movie reviews, he is the brains behind ‘The Vigil Idiot‘. Sahil Rizwan for a change will answer in the text format. :)

Q: When and why did you start blogging?

A: I started blogging a little over a year ago. I used to write for a column in my college newsletter and, once I graduated, blogging seemed to be the only viable vent for someone as unqualified to write as me. Natural progression, I think they call it.

Q: What topics do you generally blog about?

A: I started off trying to stick to topics that I knew I could carry on a conversation about. Of course, it didn’t take me long to realize that this was a shockingly small list, pretty much restricted to films, television and sport. So yeah, it started off with me ranting about unintentionally funny movies and bad TV advertisements. Then the stick figure movie-spoofs became a hit and I decided not to indulge myself by messing around too much. I mean, as long as people were still reading, and I was still having fun drawing the comics, why fix something that ain’t broken, right?

Q: Do you ever get stuck when writing an entry? What do you do then?

A: Nah! I get a pretty good idea of what I want to put in a comic while I’m watching the film. I think after a year of movie-spoofing, I’ve been conditioned to just keep a look out for the plot-holes in a script. So if I decide that a movie is spoof-worthy, it’s because I know I won’t fall short of material. I just have to take the nonsensical bits, add a few sarcastic comments and pad it up with some internet lingo. I’m surprised people haven’t caught onto the formula yet, because, I swear, literally anyone could do it.

I think the biggest hurdle for me is actually sitting down and drawing the comic. I’m essentially the laziest person this side of Yuvraj Singh.

Q: Do you promote your blog? What promotional techniques work best for you and why?

A: Other than posting links on Twitter and Facebook, I haven’t actively done anything to promote the site. And while that may not sound like much, it’s actually more than enough for me. I have about 1800 odd followers on Twitter & some 3500 fans on The Vigil Idiot page on Facebook right now. So I could literally draw the worst comic in the history of illustrations, but even one posted link guarantees me a couple thousand hits without even one of the readers sharing it forward.

My point, other than blatantly showing off my modest nature, is that I only had the 50 followers on Twitter when I started off. And the Fan Page was created not 4 months ago. So if you know how to go about it, the promotion bit literally does take care of itself eventually. There are a couple of things I try to take care of.

One – Never post a new update on a weekend! Office-goers with nothing to do at work are invariably going to be a blog’s biggest readership base, so it’s in your best interest to adjust your post schedule according to the work week.

Two – It’s all about ‘Who’ is sharing your post, rather than ‘How many’. This actually isn’t something you can do a lot about, because it’s not like you can go up to popular tweeters and force them to share your link. But if you can be subtle about it, it’s the most sure-fire way to get your blog noticed.

Three – Never overdo it with the link-posting! If you’re not getting the response you want after two plugs, there’s no point irritating the followers you have by posting the same link 10 more times during the day.

Q: ‘The Vigil Idiot’. You coined this term and even Google doesn’t show any other options. :) How was “The Vigil Idiot’ born? What is it that he wanted to do?

A: Like it says on the site, I actually wanted to call it ‘The Village Idiot’. That was one of the names we’d shortlisted for my column in the college newsletter. But the domain was already registered, so I went with ‘The Vigil Idiot’. Literally only because I didn’t wanna put too much more thought into it, and that was the closest available domain name which somewhat made grammatical sense.

I’m not sure even The Vigil Idiot knew what he wanted to do when he started off. It’s just sorta evolved and slipped into this topless, movie-spoofing, stud figure. =p

Q: Your started off with ‘Ghaat the hell’ which was ‘your’ take on Film posters and movies like Prem Aggan and more… How did it evolve into the stick figure version? When did the lightning strike for the idea?

A: You know, I’ve never actually had any real affinity towards drawing or illustration. That really should go without saying if you’ve seen the graphics on the comics I’ve done. But one of the biggest inspirations was definitely this one post I’d read a few years ago by that genius of a writer, Maddox. http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=five_shitty_movies

It was just so simple. The humour has nothing to do with the quality of the illustrations. It was more about the digs being taken at the script.

So even though my essay type posts on movies like Prem Aggan were funny-ish, there was no way I could capture the true and complete awfulness of those films without rambling on for thousands of words. And if there’s one thing that turns me off as a reader, it’s an uber-long post that doesn’t go anywhere. So I started drawing these 50 panel comics, which still had a helluva lotta words, but at least people got to look at stick figure Minnisha Lambas and Kareena Kapoors.

Q: Kurbaan and My Name is Khan were your ticket to bollywood glory and both incidentally had a common link Kjo! :) Is it just a coincidence or Kjo really likes you? :P What were the effects of these two posts in your life?

A: I actually did make a note in my anniversary post about how Karan Johar had single-handedly been responsible for the site’s popularity. Kurbaan was the first comic I’d done on the same weekend that the movie released. It obviously got shared & noticed way more than any of the previous ones I’d done, and it was the first time I got more than a 500 hits in a single day. Word just started spreading from there, and by the time I came out with the MNIK comic a few months later, it had touched more than 8,000 hits a day.

The more the publicity a film gets, the more the people that watch it, the more the people that get pissed off at it, and the more the people that can identify with my comic. I have nothing against the guy or his films… Not more than any of the other directors whose movies I’ve spoofed anyway. It really is an unfortunate coincidence that two of the biggest budget duds in the last year just happened to be Karan Johar flicks.

About the effect on my life, where do I start? I think the thing that I’m most grateful for is the fact that it’s helped me justify staying pretty much unemployed for the last year and a half. I mean, I call myself a freelance writer, but that’s just a fancy way of saying I contribute nothing to society at all. The truth is, if it weren’t for the project offers that started coming in because of the site, I probably would’ve been forced to take up a 10-7 desk job reading someone else’s blog right now. It’s pretty much what I do now, but it’s what I do lying in my own bed.

So, Mr. Karan Johar, if you’re reading this… Many thanks! I owe my Z-grade online celebrity and real-life joblessness to you.

Q; When did the interest for drawing Stick Figures come? Can you share with us some of your early stick figures?

A: Ha ha! Trust me! This isn’t one of those stories where I show a talent for something as a child and find an outlet later on in life to turn it into something meaningful. The only reason I *had* to turn to stick figures is because it’s the most basic form of illustration out there. And, to be honest, even that, I suck at!

Q: Let us go back to the 80′s and and 90′s. the era of Gunda and other movies. Which would be the 5 movies which you would like to spoof and why?

A: There’re some questions no person can honestly ever answer. Favourite movie… Favourite song… It all depends on so many things, doesn’t it? So when it comes to movies that I’d like to spoof, all I can say is that it’s hard enough keeping track of current releases without having to think about old ones.

However, I will say this. I will never, ever, dare spoof Gunda! That movie is my bible. It’s the sort of experience where you just sit back and absorb the awesomeness. It’s immune to any sort of intellectual critique or analysis.

Q: Stick figures have proven effective as a source of advertising, entertainment and as a form of storyboarding and practice for film work. Do you see yourself getting into one of these genres in the future? Where do we see Sahil Rizwan 5 years down the line? What is your dream job like?

A: Well, I’ve already worked as a copywriter with an ad agency for about a year. It’s when I first realized I wasn’t cut out for the whole getting ready in the morning to go to office gig. So to be honest, I think I’m already at my dream job. I sit at home all week. Work on my own time. Watch movies on the weekend. Draw bad comics. And get appreciated by tens of thousands of readers for it. I’d have to be one ungrateful and overly-ambitious person to not be happy with that. Having said that, I do have some plans to make this more viable as a long-term career plan. So fingers crossed on that.

Q: 13 Marriage proposals received and also an offer to have a baby too because of your blog. How is it in the personal life? Is Sahil, the favorites among ladies or does Sahil have to hunt?

A: Sigh… Unfortunately, all that attention is strictly virtual. Most of my closest friends have only read a couple of the spoofs I’ve done. And even that figure, I sincerely doubt. In real life, the women that know Sahil couldn’t care less for his uber-popular webcomic… or his super-awesome sense of humour… or his tall, dark, and handsome physique.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way, either. It’s a nice reality check. Reminds me that if I want those 13 proposals to stay valid, I have to make sure that none of those girls ever meet me in person.

Q: How important is it for the blogger to interact with their readers? Do you respond to all the comments that you receive?

A: I don’t think anyone’s gonna say that it isn’t important to interact with your readers. When the site was still in its pre-Kurbaan phase, I used to reply to every single comment, even if it was just a courtesy ‘Thanks’. It’s not really feasible to reply individually to every comment now, with the site and the fan page and the mails. But I try to get back to all the ones I can. Especially the marriage proposals… Because, come on!

Q: What do you find to be the most gratifying aspect of blogging?

A: Well, I’d be lying if I said that a lot of it isn’t about the appreciation that you get from your readers. For me, at least. Each new comment, fan, follower… It’s all an awesome reminder that you’re doing something right. Also, I’ve gotten to know some really amazing people because of the site, so that’s another big plus for me.

Having said that, the absolute, most-gratifying, aspect of blogging for me is the fact that I get to write about movies. Those are two of my favourite things right there. And even if I didn’t have a single reader today, I’d probably still be writing about movies. I would probably suck at it, seeing as to how I don’t have a single reader… But yeah, I’d still be doing it.

Q: How, in general, would you rate the quality of Indian blogs? Share your favourite five blogs.

A: There are a lot of Indian blogs that are right up there with the funniest out there. Most of my favourite bloggers are the usual suspects:

Q: What is your advice to someone who wants to start a blog?

A: Just to keep at it and know that if your content is good, there’s no way that it won’t get noticed. It might take time, but it will get noticed!

Q: Do you earn revenue through your blog? How does one go about it?

A: I haven’t earned any money directly from the site yet, so if anyone can tell me how to go about it, I’d be more than willing to pass that information on to you later.
Q: Let’s conclude off with a few favorites.

Color: Blue

Movie: It’s a toss-up between Gunda and Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani.

TV Show: Arrested Development.

Book: Asterix The Legionary.

Time of Day: Between Midnight and 8 A.M. It’s when I get all my work done.

Your Zodiac Sign: Aquarius.

Merci Monsieur for such an awesome interview. We are sure your fans enjoyed knowing more about Sahil Rizwan. Friends, do check out his movie reviews if you haven’t already and bookmark it as his reviews will show a different side to the movie altogether.

Connect with Sahil: Blog, Twitter, Facebook

6 Responses to “Interview with Sahil Rizwan”

  1. Swaram says:

    Wow! Liked reading this one :)

  2. Viju says:

    This was a good interview, specially with good tips on blogging and link-sharing.
    And as always, been a big fan of Sahil’s comics. In most cases, the comics are more entertaining than the movie itself!

  3. Nethra says:

    That was an interesting interview. Checked his blog and must tell that he got some sense of humor.

    and 13 marriage proposals. Lol! :D

  4. thressy says:

    i think d dude’s just lucky that our movie industry’s dishin out a lot o crap lately… m an avid follower nonetheless… saved me a lot o money :P…

  5. sayed says:

    Am just wondering.. if doesn’t make money outta the site, how does he survive wen he’s on it all the time..?
    Love his work by the way!

  6. amit says:

    i”m a fan of his blog. Found it when Shahrukh Khan tweeted about it so he is spot on when he says its “Who” spreads the word around and not “How many”. I wish him all the more success because he deserves it.

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