Star Cast: Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor, Suhana Khan, Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja, Yuvraj Menda, Dot.
Director: Zoya Akhtar
What’s Good: Aesthetics, looks, feel!
What’s Bad: Story, narration, screenplay, dialogues, performances, existence!
Loo Break: There are 16 songs; choose any of them!
Watch or Not?: Only if you haven’t read Archie’s comics, because if you have, you’ll hate it even more
Available On: Netflix
Runtime: 2 hours 23 minutes
It’s 1964, we are in Riverdale, a fictional hilltown set in North India dominated by an Anglo-Indian community; and we’re introduced to ‘Green Park’ by Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), who explains the history attached to it. Apart from loving Green Park, Archie also likes the Brunnete Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan) and Blonde Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor) at the same time.
The confusing love triangle flourishes further when Veronica’s capitalist dad, Mr. Lodge (Alyy Khan), decides to ‘redevelop’ Green Park by erecting a lavish five-star hotel after destroying it. That enrages the six seventeen-year-olds who come up with a plan to ‘save the green.’
The Archies Movie Review: Script Analysis
The all-female writing trio of Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti & Ayesha DeVitre (Gehraiyaan, Kapoor & Sons) take the ‘style over substance’ route, relying so heavily on how cute the film looks, skipping how intriguing the story is. Yes, Nikos Andritsakis’ (Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!, Ugly, Shanghai) camerawork covers the retro vibrance of Riverdale like its Shimla meets Santorini, but until when you’ll embrace the cuteness of the frames with the story constantly poking you with its predictable jarringness.
The lamest checkbox it ticks of being called a ‘launchpad’ vehicle for the star-kids is the song ‘Sunoh’ cryptically/especially/unknowingly mention ‘Suhani’ & ‘Khushi’ in the lyrics “Kyun zindagi lagti hai humko Suhaani… sunoh… Kyun hai Khushi paane mein humko aasaani… sunoh” leaving an easter egg not many would realize. But why?
I get these people are Anglo-Indians (people with mixed Indian and British ancestry), and that’s why the ‘accent,’ but how can they flawlessly sing songs using words like ‘Rawani, Zindagani, Zubaani’? That’s where the whole disconnect lies.
The Archies Movie Review: Star Performance
Remember how Katrina Kaif was always shown this NRI in her films so that the makers could justify her accent? Here we have the Anglo-Indian kids who talk exactly like SoBo gurlz talk to their cab wale bhaayaa. Both Suhana Khan & Khushi Kapoor would need a lot of polishing before making their big-screen debut. The flaws in the performance are glaringly visible owing to the portrayed laidback attitude in the act. Everything in their performance comes across as borderline lazy.
Agastya Nanda’s debut is a desultory attempt at acting just like Suhana and Khushi, even he seems like he’s just reading lines without adding any emotions to them. The whole existence of Vedang Raina’s Reggie & Yuvraj Menda’s Dilton’s characters lead up to one outstanding sequence (the best scene of the film), and they do tremendous justice to the same. Dot is both pretty & forgettable as Ethel.
The Archies Movie Review: Direction, Music
Zoya Akhtar compromises her vision in lieu of accepting the challenge of decorating a bewitching vehicle to launch star-kids. This is not the Zoya I know or want. Yes, the line “To make art, you’ve to go in, not out” has some of her shades, but that’s about it. She misfires, missing the target, adding yet another mediocre blot on her body of work after the utterly disappointing Made In Heaven 2.
There are sixteen songs in Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s ‘Why School Musical?’, and the only song that I might listen to again is ironically titled ‘Sunoh.’ The lyrical pieces act as unnecessary fillers, failing to do their job of replacing the usual dialogues.
The Archies Movie Review: The Last Word
All said and done, this is not only Zoya Akhtar’s most uncertain work to date, but it also suffers from an identity crisis. Juggling between being a slice-of-life drama sprinkled with social issues stuck with some Gen-Zs in the 60s who are overtly aware of being in a musical quoting Godard’s “Cinema is truth 24 times per second” to back nothing substantial; these teenagers do nothing more than look beautiful.
The Archies Trailer
The Archies releases on 07th December, 2023.
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For more recommendations, read our Tiger 3 Movie Review here.