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Homeentertainment'The Archies' movie review: A musical tribute to the comic strip

'The Archies' movie review: A musical tribute to the comic strip

The Archies2023★★★☆☆3/5Director:Zoya AkhtarCast:Agastya Nanda, Khushi Kapoor, Suhana Khan, Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja, Aditi Saigal and Yuvraj Menda.

Comic strips are meant to be light fare — simple, straight and consumed in seconds. A chuckle here, a laugh there, and entertaining overall.

Zoya Akhtar’s adaptation of the iconic American comic is exactly that. The coming-of-age musical is a joyous canvas that leaves little room for any dull strokes by the debutant star kids.

There is nothing truly disturbing in Riverdale. The fictional hill station is populated by high-schoolers flaunting their pre-internet age of innocence. The film looks like a neat stack of postcards, each unfolding with a song and dance. Between ‘Va Va Voom’ and ‘Dishoom Dishoom’, Archie and his gals and pals dish out the Anglo-Indian coolth of 1960s.

The kids are all the age of Independent India, and are part of families that stayed back after the British left. 

The retro storyboard gives enough scope for Suhana Khan’s Veronica to work her foxy charm on Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), who is equally enamoured of Betty (Khushi Kapoor), the girl next door.

Zoya transplants the all-American tale into Indian soil and waters it with allusions to the free press and capitalism, complete with an ‘Everything is Politics’ soundtrack. There is some subtle messaging about how minorities (here, Anglo-Indians) are also part of this ‘mulk’. 

Unlike the comic strip, the teens get to do some serious activism. Proms and picnics make way for placards as an industrialist plans to build a hotel in Riverdale’s lung space. ‘Green Park’ has to be saved at all costs. Soon, the slogan-raising students are pitted against a bulldozer.

But hey, activism is not Archie’s cup of tea. "I wish I had two hearts," he says, two-timing Betty and Veronica. 

"I wish you had one brain," Jughead manages to spout some sense while thrusting down his burgers. (One grouse though, his unfailing devotion to food doesn’t come through in the movie.)

The casting is perfect with models/VJs from the MTV generation making an impact (Kamal Sidhu, Alyy Khan, Luke Kenny, Koel Purie).

Among the newcomers, Vedang Raina delights as Reggie, the rebel with a cause. The rest are all confident, but look a little too wise and well-groomed.

Never mind, desi-kins touches a chord, just like the comic book.

(Published 09 December 2023, 02:58 IST)

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