The Archies Movie Review |

critic’s rating: 


The era is 1964. The setting is a quaint little hill station, teeming with Anglo-Indians, somewhere in North India, called Riverdale. Archie (Agastya Nanda), Betty (Khushi Kapoor), Veronica (Suhana Khan), Jughead (Mihir Ahuja), Reggie (Vedang Raina), Ethel (Dot) and Dilton (Yuvraj Menda) are highschool students in their last year of school. They’re on the cusp of adulthood and like most teenagers, are struggling with the issues that come with this age. Archie and friends, who have their origin in one of the most widely read American comics, find themselves transplanted in India in a unique way. To have them as Anglo-Indians is a nice touch. Let’s not forget the Indian in the community’s name. The people of Riverdale love India and wouldn’t think of living anywhere else. If they listen to The Beatles, then they are also aware of Mohammed Rafi, Shammi Kapoor is as much a sex-symbol for them as Elvis and masala chai feels as refreshing as soda pop.

The Indianisation is superbly done. The essence of the Anglo-Indian community – their love for music, for dance, baking, working in the railways, adaptation of the western style of clothing and hairstyle, as well as their accents is brought to life in great detail.

The film follows the same arc that’s shown in the comics. Archie can’t decide between Veronica and Betty, Jughead loves to eat every minute and Dilton loves to invent quirky things. Betty is shown to be a good baker, Ethel is a great hair-dresser and Reggie wants to be a journalist. Veronica, of course, is too rich to actually understand the concerns of her middle-class friends.

Adulting is hard. While the youngsters are busy with their last year of carless living, they also get to know that their town might be changing, and not for the better it seems. In the name of progress, the old places, like the bookshop of Betty’s father or the town’s favourite cafe, Pop Tate’s, are getting bought over and giving way to glitzy storefronts lacking a soul and there are rumours that their favourite place, Green Park, which lies at the heart of the town and is sacred to the community because of its nostalgic value, too is marked for development. They decide to raise their voice against it and in the process, realise their strengths and weaknesses.

The film’s cinematographer, Nikos Andritsakis, has given Riverdale a picture-postcard quality, filling it with bright colours and warm hues. The production design and the costume design teams too have done a wonderful job. The film has been designed as a musical, with songs replacing dialogue in key scenes. While the songs are catchy and do complement the film, they don’t make an impact outside of the film’s narrative. While the plot is predictable, the writing, especially the portions which revolve around friendship, has been fresh and breezy. They smack of real relationships between a group of teenagers. Another good thing is that while the film does tilt a bit towards Archie, Betty and Veronica, the others too get their moment in the sun. It showcases proper group dynamics, with some being more dominant than the others but at the end, everyone is a friend.

It isn’t just a launch vehicle for starkids like Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor and Suhana Khan but brings the others – Mihir Ahuja, Vedang Raina, Aditi Dot and Yuvraj Menda into the limelight as well. The director must have taken lots of workshops with them because they not only seem like real friends on screen but also come across as seasoned performers, rather than newbies. Suhana grows on you as the film progresses and so does Vedang. Yuvraj has a more layered role to play and does it effortlessly. Dot makes for a fine Ethel as well. Khushi comes across as a natural on screen and so does Agastya. While he can be said to be the find of the film, each of these super confident kids have a great future ahead of them.

Watch the film for the dose of nostalgia that it provides. It makes you yearn for your school/college days and for a life which was simple yet perfect.

Trailer : The Archies

Dhaval Roy, December 7, 2023, 5:00 PM IST

critic’s rating: 


The Archies story: Set in 1964 in a fictional hill station called Riverdale in India, the coming-of-age story follows Archie and his friends navigating friendship, romance, and social responsibility as their cherished park faces a threat from developers demolishing it to build a hotel.

The Archies review: Director Zoya Akhtar adapts the adolescent-favourite Archies Comics for the big screen and ensures the Bollywood outing is colourful, youthful, and sweet. But above all, she creates it as a teen musical comedy. This is where her latest venture stands apart. There have been few high-school musical dramas in Hindi cinema before. Add to that the nostalgia value – the film’s cast have a unique canvas. Right enough, the screen is splashed with a dreampop-like sequences and an endearing retro look and feel. And at its heart are the 90’s kids’ favourite teenagers — Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan), Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor), Jughead (Mihir Ahuja), Reggie Mantle (Vedang Raina), Ethel Muggs (Dot), and Dilton Doiley (Yuvraj Menda).
While the comics are all about the group’s goofy shenanigans, the movie falls short of being as irreverent. The characters are almost adulting and making tough choices between passion and practicality or progress. The theme of wholesome friendship is infused with activism, as the gang tries to save the cultural hub, Green Park, from being torn down to make way for a grand hotel. The movie works well and charms as a musical. The tracks by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Ankur Tewari, The Islanders, and Dot (Aditi Saigal) are foot-tapping and fun, especially ‘Dhishoom Dhishoom,’ ‘Sunoh,’ and ‘Va Va Voom.’ Gautam Hegde’s choreography in the songs is another highlight that adds to the film’s visual appeal.

The Archie world’s adorable characters are its strongest point, and it’s the same with the posse of fresh faces here. Suhana Khan, as the rich and spoilt Veronica Lodge, pulls off the sweet and sassy girl act torn between her businessman father’s shrewdness and loyalty to her friends. Agastya Nanda is charming as the confused Archie, who lives life just for the kicks but must understand that ‘everything is politics’ and can’t choose between Veronica and Betty. Khushi Kapoor impresses as Betty, and has scope to perform with her emotional scenes, which she pulls off with aplomb. While Vedang Raina as Reggie and Dot as Ethel are impressive, Mihir Ahuja as the adorable Jughead is good, too. Yuvraj Menda as Dilton, as the nerdy and cute teenager, deserves special mention. All the newcomers get their moment to shine.

The movie loses steam in the second half and could have been more engaging as the conflict escalates. Solutions are convenient, and the resolution is trifling. Overall, while the era, the look and feel have been created well, the movie ends up a tad underwhelming. What is delightful is watching a bunch of fresh new faces put their best food forward – whether for emoting on screen or doing some rock n roll the 60s tunes.

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