A film adaptation of one of the most cherished comics of the rock 'n' roll era of the '60s and the much-awaited dream debuts of many star kids by a director who never fails to impress are reasons enough to justify the hype around Netflix's latest release, The Archies. After all, watching Zoya Akhtar get behind the camera to direct the likes of Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor, Agastya Nanda, and take us to the hilly town of Riverdale through a musical spanning 16 spectacular songs is something we just couldn’t miss.
So here’s what we liked, loved, and wished could have been better.
The music takes the story forward
While Zoya Akhtar has worked with many actors across her impressive filmography, the music composer of her movies has remained constant—the terrific trio of Shankar, Ehsaan, and Loy. They have given us a host of hummable tracks in Akhtar's Luck by Chance (2009), Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015)—and The Archies is no different. The musical comedy has 16 songs (also composed by Ankur Tewari, The Islanders, and Aditi "Dot" Saigal) and most of them strike the right chord.
"Sunoh", the very first track in the film introduces the viewer to the world of Riverdale and its characters in no time. With its groovy beat, "Va Va Vroom", is the rock 'n' roll number that will make you want to shake a leg. While the visual aesthetic of "Dishoom Dishoom", where the gang of girls do away with shoes to dance in skates, is making all the right noises, it’s perfect placement makes it a spot on hit. Everything is Politics is a track that everyone—young and old—needs to listen to, to understand that every single thing in life has something to do with politics. My favourite song, however, is "In Raahon Mein"—sung by Arjit Singh, it gives the movie a fitting end and fills us with a lot of hope and happiness.
The lyricists deserve a special mention here. The lyrics are the perfect blend between the old and the new as Javed Akhtar and Aditi "Dot" Saigal (who plays Ethel Muggs) team up to bring out the essence of Riverdale and its characters. With the film being all about youngsters and their dreams, one can’t help but marvel at the mind of Akhtar who said, “I realised that whatever vocabulary I have, I will have to forget almost 85 per cent of it. I should be able to say what the character wants to say, but in the language of the character, not in my language.”
Saigal, on the other hand, is the soul of the film as her hard-hitting lyrics and voice works wonders in "Asymmetrical", "Dishoom Dishoom", "Sunoh", and "Everything is Politics" to name a few. Tejas, the man who’s become the voice of the film has lent his voice to "Sunoh" and "Va Va Vroom". He’s definitely someone to keep an eye out for.
The kids who shine and those who don’t
All eyes were on the new star kids The Archies marks the debut of Suhana Khan (King Khan's daughter), Agastya Nanda (Amitabh Bachchan's grandson), and Khushi Kapoor (daughter of legendary actor Sridevi). Along with this talented trio, the movie also stars Mihir Ahuja, Dot, Vedang Raina, and Yuvraj Menda.
And we think, Khan and Raina stand out for their performances. No one else could have played Veronica Lodge better than Khan, who aces the mannerisms of a rich, spoilt teenager. She nails every move on the dance floor and seeing her character undergo a personal and emotional transformation makes you realise what dream debuts are made of.
Raina, who plays Reggie Mantle, has blessed the film with his good looks and charm. He adds a punch to the movie with his raw intensity and comic timing in his scenes. He is very much the complete package and has a bright future. Mihir Ahuja as Jughead Jones and Yuvraj Menda as Dilton Doiley light up the screen every time, and we think it’s casting at its very best!
On the other hand, Kapoor and Nanda don’t have the impact that the others do. Compared to Veronica, Betty (played by Kapoor) has always been shy and reserved. While there are a few scenes that require Kapoor to elevate her performance, and she kind of misses it, but it’s just her first film and has a long way to go. The same holds true for Nanda, who, as Archie, doesn’t make the most out of it. You feel his presence as someone who reacts in scenes and at situations, but not as someone who can take charge.
The love triangle
Are you team Betty or team Veronica is a debate for another day, but audiences are sure to love the romance on display in The Archies. The storyline and performances are so relatable that it will remind one of the time where they might have been in a love triangle (we have all been there; here’s how to deal with it)! It’s a tough choice between Betty and Veronica to be honest) as one can fall for either of the two girls because they’re awesome in their own ways. Seeing him write, sing, and dedicate the same song ('Va Va Vroom') to both girls, without them knowing, was an absolute laugh riot.
While Archies gives us ample moments to show what a two-timer he is, the girls put their friendship before the boy. The track 'Dishoom Dishoom' is the perfect pre-cursor to one of the funniest scenes in the movie where Khan and Kapoor show Nanda that he better think before playing with their hearts.
The fashion and set design in the film
The Archies is nothing less than a visual treat, thanks to its retro style that effortlessly captures the spirit of the '60s. Designer, Poornamrita Singh (of Gully Boy and Made in Heaven fame) weaves her magic with pleated skirts, floral dresses, printed shirts, blouses paired with flared pants and so on. With a part of the movie shot around Christmas, sweater vests get their time to shine making us want to cop the '60s fashion on display. It’s not just the clothes but the shoes as well as (we’ve got our eyes on the Mary Janes and stockings) in the classic black and a host of colours.
While the movie is filled with characters that stand out, the hilly town of Riverdale also adds its own personality and charm to the screen, thanks to the stunning set design. Be it the Lodges Mansion that features a host of fabrics in neutral tones, Veronica’s bedroom that is fit for a princess with its floral motifs and paisley prints, Pop Tates restaurant, the book store owned by Betty’s father, or the many parks, each one of them add a flavour to the lives of Archie and his gang. The move will surely make you fall in love with the original comic once again!