Review of ‘The Archies’: Suhana, Khushi, Agastya shine in their debut

Review of ‘The Archies’: Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s adaptation of the iconic ‘Archies’ comic series, premiering today on Netflix, features debut performances from Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor, and Agastya Nanda. The film faithfully brings beloved characters to life, with the new actors delivering compelling performances, according to our review

If you grew up on the single and double digest copies of ‘Archies’ then you need no introduction to Riverdale and the world of its three central characters – Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge. So, when Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti announced they were giving the iconic comic book series a desi tadka with an Indian adaptation, everyone took notice.

the archies review

For hardcore Archies fans, these characters and their world are sacrosanct and almost too fragile to tamper with. Hollywood experimented with the concept in Netflix’s dark, edgy thriller ‘Riverdale,’ which succeeded for a few episodes before plummeting into a forgettable finale.”

The Indian Riverdale is set around the Anglo-Indian community. First, you meet the flirtatious Archie [Agastya Nanda] proudly proclaiming that ‘The Archies’, a local musical band will soon be the best in the world, after the Beatles. Next you meet his best friends, the kind-hearted and generous Betty [Khushi Kapoor] and ferocious London returnee Veronica (Suhana Khan). Then, of course, there’s the familiar gang – Jughead (Mihir Ahuja), Reggie (Vedang Raina), Ethel (Dot.), and Dilly (Yuvraj) – famously known as the Class of ’64. In their teenage years, you witness the characters navigating adulthood, seasoned with a hint of youthful spirit.

Zoya and Reema have done an exceptional job in preserving the familiar look and essence of the characters we fondly remember. The moment Veronica steps in, adorned in a foxy purple dress, her persona is instantly recognisable. The chemistry between the actors is seamless and loveable. It will perhaps make you miss your gang too. Their cute banters and innocent jokes are nonchalantly funny to be ignored. The adaptation remains faithful to the essence of these well-known characters.”
“If you grew up reading ‘Archies’ comics, you’re likely familiar with Riverdale and its core trio – Archie Andrews, Betty Cooper, and Veronica Lodge. When Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti announced an Indian adaptation of this iconic comic series, it grabbed everyone’s attention.

For die-hard ‘Archies’ fans, these characters and their world hold immense value and are almost too delicate to alter. Hollywood tested the waters with the dark, edgy thriller ‘Riverdale’ on Netflix, which initially succeeded but faltered towards a forgettable finale.

The Indian rendition of Riverdale centers around the Anglo-Indian community. You first encounter the charming Archie (portrayed by Agastya Nanda), proudly declaring that ‘The Archies,’ a local music band, will soon surpass even the Beatles. Then, you meet his best friends – the kind-hearted Betty (played by Khushi Kapoor) and the spirited Veronica (portrayed by Suhana Khan), back from London. And of course, there’s the familiar gang – Jughead (Mihir Ahuja), Reggie (Vedang Raina), Ethel (Dot.), and Dilly (Yuvraj) – famously known as the Class of ’64. The storyline follows their teenage years as they navigate adulthood, sprinkled with a touch of youthful spirit.

Zoya and Reema have done an exceptional job maintaining the familiar appearance and essence of the characters we hold dear. When Veronica enters, dressed in a stunning purple outfit, her persona is instantly recognizable. The chemistry among the actors is natural and endearing, possibly evoking nostalgia for your own group of friends. Their playful banter and innocent jokes are effortlessly amusing. The adaptation remains true to the essence of these beloved characters.

However, the primary weakness of ‘The Archies’ lies in its central conflict. While the idea of the gang coming together to save ‘Green Park’ from development seemed promising on paper, its execution falls short of expectations. It stands out as one of the weakest storylines in the narrative. Instead, delving into the dynamics between the seven characters would have been a more engaging approach. Despite the nostalgic nods to Pop Tates and Pam’s parlour and bookstore from pop culture, they serve more as set pieces than integral parts of the story.

With the exception of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and to some extent, Reggie, the remaining characters appear rather one-dimensional. Credit goes to the creators for attempting to give these characters more depth beyond the standard versions we’ve seen countless times. Zoya and Reema have expertly guided the new actors, resulting in compelling performances on screen. What bolsters their portrayals is that the characters never become caricatures. Hence, none of the casting choices felt misplaced—they perfectly fit their roles. Additionally, their dancing skills are remarkable, presenting a captivating sight on screen.

the archies review

Suhana Khan, in her debut, masters the sassiness with finesse, while Khushi Kapoor delivers a decent performance as Betty. Agastya Nanda perfectly embodies Archie’s character, and Mihir brings an endearing goofiness to Jughead, making it a delightful watch. However, Vedang truly steals the spotlight with his remarkable on-screen presence. Despite limited roles, Dot and Yuvraj do justice to their characters. The film also benefits from seasoned actors in supporting roles, adding significant value. Koel Purie, portraying Betty’s mother, Alice, delivers a delightful performance, balancing humor and sassiness.

Given that ‘The Archies’ is a musical, the music by Ankur Tiwari and Shankar-Ehsan-Loy deserves mention. While the music and background score enhance the viewing experience, they don’t linger in memory for long. ‘Sunoh’ and ‘Va Va Vroom,’ however, stand out from the rest.

The set design and production maintain a convincing portrayal. Zoya and Reema successfully capture the essence of the comics and the era, but something feels lacking. The effort is commendable, undoubtedly, but it seems to miss the soul despite having the heart in the right place!

Adapting a story is a challenging task, and while we appreciate Zoya and Reema’s efforts, whether ‘The Archies’ will attain the global acclaim seen by ‘Squid Game’ for South Korea remains to be seen! Tune in to ‘The Archies’ on Netflix to find out.