Zoya Akhtar’s ‘The Archies’ turns out to be a damp squib and nothing like the breezy comic series

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Zoya Akhtar’s ‘The Archies’ turns out to be a damp squib and nothing like the breezy comic series
Source: IANS
  • The movie’s characters are nothing like they are in comic books.
  • Agastya Nanda is a serious college-plan maker, Reggie a crusader.
  • Suhana Khan and Khushi Kapoor should have exchanged places as Betty and Veronica.
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You can’t live your life for kicks, everything is politics. If not anything, Zoya Akthar’s musical The Archies has given a slogan for young people to come and vote in the upcoming general elections. Beyond that, there is little else in the movie that promises a lot with an unusual setting.

The trailer had enthused Archie comic-loving GenX and older millennials. It also enthused GenZs with debuts of starkids like Suhana Khan, Agastya Nanda and Khushi Kapoor. While people were promised a breezy watch which goes with the Christmas mood, it’s actually bland.

An already predictable story-line is extended and made slower by the many songs. Songs are way too brooding and don’t have the 60s twist dance format. The movie misses the delicious vintage moments of the time and the sequence is closer to High School Musical choreography.

Neither is the story heartwarming nor are the characters anything like their comic-book characters, without their typical goofiness.

Not the real Archies

A serious young man planning for college is not the Archie we know who is an awkward, always-broke young man who jalopy constantly breaks down.
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Reggie in the movie looks uncannily like Ranveer Singh and acts like him too. He is not chasing Midge and Ronnie and getting into trouble with Moose. In fact, he writes socially relevant articles, comforts Dilton who ‘is in love’ with him and more. Where is the mirror-gazing vanity?

Jughead is way too insightful about the workings of girls, and Hotdog is too small. Also, why make Mr Lodge a villain? He is the smart businessman – the kind who plans to invest in spectacle-making businesses after he sees people always looking into their phones. Here, he is a man who paves a paradise-like park to put up a parking lot, ahem… hotel.

Zoya Akhtar’s ‘The Archies’ turns out to be a damp squib and nothing like the breezy comic series
Source: IANS

Missing the fashion-point

The girls — Betty and Ronnie – are also far from their true nature. For one, the leggy Kapoor should have been Veronica and Khan should have been Betty. The comics brought in the ‘great girl divide’ — girl next-door versus the unattainable hot girl. The frenemy love triangle is also brushed away.

It’s time to point out that Karan Johar has gotten this better in his movie Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. The movie stars Khan’s father Shah Rukh Khan as the girl-chasing boy who falls for the hot, new girl Rani Mukherjee —ignoring his plain best-friend Kajol.
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The fashion game of Archies was also better captured by older film-makers when Archies was in vogue. It’s been said that Raj Kapoor had used Archie books to design Dimple Kapadia’s outfits in 70s classic, Bobby. He had gotten it better than Akhtar as neither Ronnie nor Betty wore anything that made them stand-out.

The Anglo-Indian town

The only thing palatable is the way the movie explains why an Indian town is named ‘Riverdale’ – and why everyone has Anglicized names. A Britisher fell in love with an Indian woman and married her and wanted a town for his people, the Anglo-Indians. The town was ‘bought’ by him from a prince, his friend.

None of the younger generation look and feel like Anglo-Indians. They speak a lot more English making one wonder if it’s an English or a Hindi movie. It also artificially makes Fred Andrews use ‘hoyenga’ instead of ‘hoga’.

All the youngsters speak Hindi with an accent, and sound like those who watched too much MTV and Channel V, which weren’t there in 1964 (that’s when radio ruled).

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Akktar had better precedents like the classic ‘Baton Baton Mein’ made by Basu Chatterjee. The Amol Palekar movie is a love story and introduces the concept of dating in the 70s which was a common practice in the Anglo-Indian community.

The Archies has none of the charm of the many movies that have been stitched around the Archies and the Anglo-Indian theme.

The movie could have been a good opportunity to introduce Archie comics back to GenZs who seem to love graphic novels. This movie will do nothing to take Archie and Jughead double digests off their half-off bins.

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