Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Archies Movie Review: THE ARCHIES is a fine entertainer that will get whopping viewership

THE ARCHIES is the story of seven friends. The year is 1964. Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor), Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan), Reggie Mantle (Vedang Raina), Jughead Jones (Mihir Ahuja), Ethel Muggs (Aditi Saigal aka Dot.) and Dilton Doiley (Yuvraj Menda) are 17-year-old kids who reside in a picturesque town in North India called Riverdale, populated by Anglo Indians. They are extremely connected with each other and with the park in Riverdale, called Green Park. Meanwhile, Hiram Lodge (Alyy Khan) plans to demolish the shops on a crucial stretch in Riverdale and convert it into a plaza. Hal’s (Satyajit Sharma) bookshop, run by Betty’s father, has to shut down, as a result. If that is not enough, then Hiram plans to cut down trees in Green Park and convert the green lung into a luxury hotel. Hiram gets Dawson (Vinay Pathak), the Town Council chief, on his side and asks him to pass the order for the hotel. Hiram, however, ensures that his name doesn’t crop up. The seven friends, meanwhile, are finding it difficult to grapple with the changes happening in their beautiful town. They are also facing struggles among themselves. Archie is confused whether he’s in love with Betty or Veronica. He also wants to move to London for higher studies, much to the annoyance of his father Fred (Suhaas Ahuja). Reggie wants to be a comedian and contribute to the newspaper, run by his father Ricky Mantle (Luke Kenny). Ricky, however, refuses as he believes in serious journalism. Dilton is hiding a deep, dark secret while Ethel’s ambition comes in the way of her interpersonal relationships. What happens next forms the rest of the film.

Ayesha Devitre Dhillon, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s story is very promising. Ayesha Devitre Dhillon, Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar’s screenplay is decent. It keeps one engaged in the goings-on. But one wishes the film had more funny and emotional scenes. Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues are conversational while the one-liners of Veronica are witty. The one-liners, interestingly, don’t seem to belong to the 60s era but that’s fine.

Zoya Akhtar’s direction is uncomplicated. She deserves kudos as she has created a fictional world like never before and done justice to it. In no time, one gets sucked into Riverdale and even understand the landmark spots of the town. It’s fascinating to see the lives of teenagers in such a manner as it rarely happens in a Hindi film. A few of their dilemmas are well depicted. Two scenes that stand out are the date of Archie and Betty and Betty and Veronica confessing the truth and the scene thereafter. The political angle is well infused and parallels can also be drawn to the present-day happenings. The ending is predictable though the makers have tried to add a little nail-biting twist.

On the flipside, the film never gives a ‘Wow’ feeling, that one expects in a Zoya Akhtar film. A few of the conflicts are superficial and even convenient. There are far too many songs. Lastly, the performances of the debutants are good but not out of the world.

Agastya Nanda makes a sincere attempt. He definitely has the potential but in THE ARCHIES, he was a bit raw in a few scenes. The same applies to Suhana Khan. But she deserves kudos for convincingly pulling off the role of the spoiled brat. Khushi Kapoor’s character is restrained and she tries her best to do justice. Vedang Raina looks dashing and is fair. Mihir Ahuja is the one who raises maximum laughs. Dot is alright and suffers from limited screen time. Yuvraj Menda is lovely and the way he says ‘Thank You’ might get picked up. Speaking of the supporting cast, Alyy Khan, Satyajit Sharma and Vinay Pathak leave a tremendous mark followed by Luke Kenny and Suhaas Ahuja. James Alter (Mike Gomes; council member) and Puja Sarup (Mrs Otters; council member) are damn good in small roles. Tara Sharma (Mary Andrews), Koel Purie (Alice Cooper), Delnaaz Irani (Pam) and Sheena Khalid (new salon owner) are wasted.

The Archies | Zoya Akhtar | Official Trailer | 7th December | Netflix India

THE ARCHIES has too many songs and the ones that leave the maximum impact are ‘Sunoh’ and ‘Yeh Saari Aawazein’. The latter comes at a crucial juncture and has soulful lyrics (Javed Akhtar). ‘Everything Is Politics’ is a surprise. ‘Dhishoom Dhishoom’ and ‘Va Va Voom’ are based on fascinating ideas and are superbly choreographed. ‘Jab Tum Na Thee’ and ‘In Raahon Mein’ are okay. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Jim Satya’s background score is in sync with the film’s mood and zone.

Nikos Andritsakis’ cinematography is as breathtaking as the locales shown in the film. Suzanne Caplan Merwanji’s production design is award-winning. The sets are fascinating and yet very much seem believable. Poornamrita Singh’s costumes are fashionable and can become a rage. Philm CGI, Netfx Mumbai and Cinegence VFX’s VFX is top-class. Nitin Baid’s editing is slick.

On the whole, THE ARCHIES is a fine entertainer that will get a whopping viewership on Netflix due to the fascinating setting, kids-friendly and family-friendly theme, style, music, message and above all, the excitement of watching the debut of the most talked about star kids in recent times.

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