Bollywood movie review: The Archies (Netflix)
Starring: Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor, Suhana Khan, Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja
The Archies is a Hindi teen musical comedy film directed by Zoya Akhtar who also produced the film with Reema Kagti under Tiger Baby Films and Sharad Devarajan under Graphic India. The film features the fictional music band produced by and related to Archie Comics, and marks the debut of some star kids – Agastya Nanda (Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson), Khushi Kapoor (Sridevi’s younger daughter), Suhana Khan (Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter), besides Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja, Aditi Saigal and Yuvraj Menda.
It is impossible for film critics to view the film other than through the prism of nepotism and much, much was expected from them in terms of looks, screen presence and, above all, talent. So, did the star kids deliver? You have to see this ‘school Annual Day play’ to realise that all the starkids proved to be utter flops. In fact, the others in the bunch – Vedang (as Reggie), Mihir (as Jughead), Aditi (as Ethel) and Yuvraj (as Dilton) with varied unsung backgrounds, did rather well, you bet!
The film adaptation of the popular comic series (which had been popular in India among school kids in the 70s and 80s, as the prime form of entertainment after school hours) has been under development since March 2018. The Archies premiered at the 54th International Film Festival of India on November 22 and was released on Netflix on December 7 much to the dismay of film critics who were expecting to be pleasantly delighted.
The storyline is set in the Anglo-Indian community in the 1960s, the period known for several incidents including anti-war protests, civil rights movement in America, hippie culture and the music of the Beatles and Bob Dylan. And director Zoya Akhtar, who herself belongs to Gen X (born between the 1960s-1970s) was probably equally nostalgic about these popular comics when she made this film. However, her contemporaries of Gen X are now in their 50s and 60s and too cut away to comprise her target audience and appreciate this bunch of millennials with zero spark.
The storyline is about the kiddos aspiring to make the world a better place. It was the era when they believed that they could change the world. You see traces of rebellion, love and peace-making alongside the generous scoops of rock ‘n’ roll in the community residing in Green Park in Riverdale, and the opening sequence seems rather silly in an attempt to establish the setting for the story.
While the starkids took the plunge in the celluloid world rather too early, we’d say, Zoya, probably failed miserably in getting out the best from them. And you’d agree when you see Suhana throwing her hands and limbs out in awkward gestures, like a cardboard puppet, which they expect the audience to swallow without burping.
Watch it only to satisfy your curiosity. Otherwise, it’s worth skipping – don’t ruin your childhood fantasies surrounding the popular comics.
Verdict: one star