A visually captivating fusion of nostalgia and novelty in a vibrant Anglo-Indian setting
“The Archies,” directed by Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, takes viewers on a nostalgic journey back to the beloved world of Archie Andrews and his friends, as originally depicted in the Archies comics. However, the filmmakers add a unique twist by reimagining the story in a 1960s Anglo-Indian community in the fictional hill station of Riverdale. The 143-minute musical drama follows Archie (Agastya Nanda) as the frontman of a band, navigating his affections between the wealthy Veronica (Suhana Khan) and the kind Betty (Khushi Kapoor). The plot unfolds as the group, including Jughead, Reggie, Ethel, Dilton, Moose, and Midge, rally together to preserve the essence of their home against a threat to the environment.
“The Archies” serves as a visually appealing nostalgia piece, skillfully blending the charm of the original comic series with a new, culturally rich setting. The filmmakers, Kagti, Akhtar, and Devitre, infuse the narrative with the specifics of the Anglo-Indian community, and the supporting cast, including Luke Kenny and Tara Sharma, add depth to the storyline. While the dialogue occasionally falls into banality, the characters range from comic book extremes to underplayed and customary, capturing the essence of Archie’s world.
The performances showcase a mix of debutantes and seasoned actors. Agastya Nanda is likeable as Archie, despite a touch of diffidence, and Vedang Raina brings the right amount of swag to Reggie. Khushi Kapoor’s debut shows a bit of stiffness in dance moves and speech, while Suhana Khan, portraying Veronica, fits well into the pampered Ronnie role. The film’s standout elements are the production design, costumes, cinematography, art direction, choreography, and locations, which, under Akhtar’s direction, create an immersive and idyllic backdrop.
The soundtrack, featuring Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s “Va Va Voom” and “Sunoh,” adds a retro vibe and energetic dance performances to the film. However, the use of songs to convey character thoughts at times feels excessive. Despite the occasional greenness among the debutantes, the film’s novelty and the strength of its technical aspects are enough to maintain viewer interest.
“The Archies” successfully captures the spirit of the original comics while offering a fresh take in a vibrant Anglo-Indian setting. While the film has its share of debutante challenges and occasional banalities in the dialogue, the stellar production elements and unique narrative approach make it a good-looking nostalgia piece worth a watch.