Being Women

A Rewind Of Riverdale: How The Charm And Nostalgia Of Archies Fizzes Out On Screen

The Archies has its heart in the right place but is let down by the writing. The result? Flatter than a pancake. It’s hard to believe that Zoya Akhtar, who gave us hits like Gully Boy and Dil Dhadhakne Do can dish out such boring fare.

Directed byZoya Akhtar
Written byAyesha Devitre Dhillon Reema Kagti Zoya Akhtar Farhan Akhtar (dialogues)
Based onCharacters by Archie Comics
Produced byZoya Akhtar Reema Kagti Sharad Devarajan Jon Goldwater
StarringAgastya Nanda
Khushi Kapoor
Suhana Khan
Vedang Raina
Mihir Ahuja
Aditi “Dot” Saigal
Yuvraj Menda

A lot is being said about the Archies on Netflix, more so because this is the launch vehicle for Star Kids. Having read the comics in my younger years, I was curious to find out what a Desi adaptation would look like. Here are my views after watching:

What worked well: the set, the looks, and the costumes

The set is well crafted with vintage cars, Goldspot bottles, high-waist pants, skates, retro hairstyles, and twist dancing. The references to Shammi Kapoor, the Beatles, and Hedy Lamarr are apt and reminiscent of the period.

Riverdale comes alive in this film. The looks, the costumes, and the quirks of the leads stay true to the comics.

It is a delight to spot supporting characters like Pop Tates, Mr. Lodge, Moose, Mrs. Grundy, and others.

The creative liberties versus the comics: the Yays and Nays

There are creative liberties taken, especially with Dilton’s character, which isn’t believable given that it is the sixties we are talking about. 

Reggie was a jerk in the comics, but in the film, he steps up, even overshadowing Archie in a few scenes. Back in my teen years, I didn’t realise that Archie Andrews was such a red flag, dating both Veronica and Betty at the same time.

Somewhere between the comics and this film, we grew up!

If there is one thing I liked, it’s the Betty-Veronica friendship, especially when they decide their bond isn’t worth sacrificing over a boy. This is also a departure from the original comics, where they squabbled over Archie.

My favourite dialogue in the film is by Betty’s mother:

If you experience tingling when you like a boy, it’s the common sense leaving your body!

The plot is sluggish and lacks intensity

The Archies has its heart in the right place but is let down by the writing. The result? Flatter than a pancake. It’s hard to believe that Zoya Akhtar, who gave us hits like Gully Boy and Dil Dhadhakne Do can dish out such boring fare.

The story unwinds in a predictable, linear fashion with hardly any nuances.

The cast breaks into song and dance every five minutes, sometimes for no reason at all. For a coming-of-age film, the script lacks intensity.

Overall, it treads on feel-good territory and tries to revel in its wokeness, but unfortunately, it never rises above its one-dimensional delivery.

The premise is mixed up, taking away the authenticity

Can you watch the film with your family?

It depends on how comfortable you are. The backdrop of the original comics is American. The film preserves the spirit even in the Anglo-Indian setup; there are dating and kissing scenes.

You do not want to be explaining what dating means to very young children.

This brings me to my next question. What was the necessity of a Riverdale Anglo-Indian community? Either the Americanness could have been retained, or they could have gone full Indian. The film exudes a neither-here-nor-there kind of feel. If it had been a different setup, it might have still worked. Even an English web series would have rendered it more identity.

The million-dollar question: the ‘nepo kid’ factor.

A lot has been said about the ensemble cast. The kids do try hard, and some of them show promise. Suhana (Ronnie) exudes sass and style. Khushi (Betty) in the melancholic songs is convincing. Agastya reminds me of a young Abhishek Bachchan. At times, the trio’s delivery is stiff and lacks conviction. The real showstopper, however, is Vedang Raina, Reggie. He resembles a young Ranveer Singh. 

There are a few doppelgängers in this film, including Aly Khan, who looks like Bobby Deol’s twin!

As for the insider-outsider talent debate, it’s too early to say. Alia hardly made an impression in her debut film, ‘Student of the Year,’ but she is one of Bollywood’s biggest and most successful stars now. The rest of the cast does not have much screen time; they drift in and out.

I was shocked to read posts shaming Suhana for looking like a female SRK or SRK with a wig.

Guess what? It’s perfectly fine for daughters to take after their daddies. Genetics 1-0-1. I resemble my dad, and I’m proud of it!

The verdict

While the content is not engaging, the Archies is a welcome departure from the gore and violence that are trending these days, both in theatres and on OTT. The film is not ‘Va Va Voom,’ but is watchable (especially on 1.5X), especially if you are a true-blue Archie fan. 

The Archies is streaming on Netflix. The opinions expressed in this article are strictly personal.


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