The Archies Hindi Movie
Watching Zoya Akhtar's new Netflix film titled "The Archies" is like flipping through the pages of a comic book. It is about a close-knit community called Riverdale, where a group of teenagers try to save their cultural touch point from being swallowed by capitalists. The Archies is set in the 1960s, and its world brims with a great deal of innocence.
Everyone in Riverdale is so kind and affectionate, barring a few. The coffee shop owners know exactly what flavors and toppings someone wants in their drink. The bookstore owners are kind enough to offer community members free literature sessions. Teenage girls never bitch about the boy who flirts with both of them at the same time.
The film is based on a comic book, and I guess it is loyal to the content of the book. The Archies has a lot to say about the importance of respecting our past, saving the environment, capitalism, teenage love, literature, and friendship. But because the movie is set in such an idyllic world where things resolve themselves, none of its big ideas pop. There is a serious lack of conflict in the movie, which means a great deal of predictability as well. You can easily guess what that handsome boy in class with an offer from a college abroad will do at the end. You can also predict what will happen at the end of the film from a mile away.
But the major deal-breaker with The Archies is none of the above. It is that the energy of the cast, comprising a bunch of debutants, seems way off right from the start. Except for some good scenes, they all act like they are reading out their lines from memory. For this reason, you hardly care about what happens in their personal lives or at Riverdale, for that matter. I am not going to go on a rant about nepotism. But The Archies is such a good example of bad casting. The central cast is almost unrecognizable, barring Shah Rukh's daughter, Suhana Khan. Some of them may have potential, but none makes you care enough for their character or plot.
The film often has a good sense of how teenagers talk, but Farhan's lines never really capture our imagination quite like the sets and costumes do. It never helps that some of the dialogues are so unoriginal and uninteresting. The other disappointing aspect of the movie is the line-up of songs. Whenever a song appears, it acts as a major speed bump in an already lethargic film.
To conclude, The Archies does such a good job of transporting the viewer into Riverdale that it looks great on a big screen. But, hey, how many pages can you really flip through, and for how long?