Wednesday, January 03, 2024


Zoya Akhtar's Indian adaptation of the Archie comics is a strange beast.  One assumes that these comics are aimed at kids, and apparently they were very popular in India in the sixties. But why then do we have a film that seems neither aimed at kids nor at adults?  On the one hand, we have pantomime villains and heroes and an entirely sexless love triangle. On the other hand, Akhtar is trying to say something about the unique position of the Anglo-Indian community in a post-Independence India. None of it hangs together.  The film might have been saved by wonderfully catchy songs, but the songs are trite and unmemorable with bizarrely statically shot dance sequences.  And as for the performances..... Much has been made of the fact that Zoya Akhtar (herself a "nepo baby") cast three scions of major Hollywood dynasties in lead roles. Archie himself is played by Agastya Nanda, grandson of Amitabh Bachchan, and his love interests are played by Suhana, daughter of Shah Rukh, Khan and Khushi, daughter of Bonny, Kapoor.  None of them can act (yet?) but if I had to rank them, Khushi seems to have the most talent, followed by Suhana then Agastya. Maybe it's just the thin characterisation giving them nothing to do.

So what is there to like about this film? I genuinely liked the prologue where we get the history of the Anglo-Indian community and something of their culture. This isn't something we ever see in mainstream Indian cinema.  I liked the production design and beautiful rendering of the interiors. I felt a sense of place in Riverdale and its central Green Park and independent stores, and peril that this would be demolished to make way for a mall. In other words, I liked the background, but not the plot or action.

THE ARCHIES has a running time of 141 minutes. It was released on Netflix last December.

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