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The Archies (2023) - Movie Review

Movies & TV

By Olivia W.

- Dec 14, 2023

For those sighing for the likes of a vibrant American comic depiction in a restful, comforting frame, the vibrant Bollywood musical “The Archies” offers the supreme balance between nostalgia and naïveté. This unique adaptation of the “Archie” comics does not merely stick to the simplistic graphic design of the original but also brings it to a make-believe 1960s India, proving that there's more to a comic adaptation than mere replication.

The tale revolves around the idyllic Northern Indian town of Riverdale, borne from the imagination of “hill station” towns such as McCluskieganj and Landour. Riverdale, a brainchild of Sir John Riverdale in 1914, has become an emblem of post-Independence India; housing the wealthy, spirited Anglo-Indian population.

The youthful cast of Riverdale, just like the classic “Archie” comics, weaves a jovial narrative, filled with song, dance, and innocent pursuits of the heart. The looming question of Archie Andrews' (Agastya Nanda) heart's choice between rich girl Veronica (Suhana Khan) and the soulful Betty (Khushi Kapoor) keeps the audience on tenterhooks. While Riverdale faces the threat of modernization, Archie's decision to choose between his town or moving to London, puzzling over his rather accepting dad Fred's (Suhaas Ahuja) objections, unravels in a surprising culmination.

The youthful bunch of Riverdale voices the anthem “everything is politics,” but their topics-“Can girls wear mini-skirts and gad-about,” and, "Are co-ed schools allowed?”-are seemingly extraneous to Archie and his crew. However, our young heroes learn, through modest yet strong plot devices, that there is more to life than mango milkshakes and Brit invasion-inspired music. “The Archies” glorifies the bliss of their character-defining youth, dwelling in the realm of innocuous self-absorption.

The Archies (2023) - Movie Review

The film draws out an infectious simplicity through its straight-forward song and dance routines, making the lack of complication feel more like a feature than a flaw. Notably, the film chooses not to deepen the frivolous natures of the supporting characters, like Jughead (Mihir Ahuja) or Moose (Rudra Mahuvarkar), but celebrates them as integral to the film's quirky charm rather than issues to solve. Khan’s radiant performance stands out among an outstanding ensemble cast, effortlessly portraying her character’s simplistic persona.

While we might have yearned for director Zoya Akhtar to take more ambitious risks in terms of cinematography and community-centric themes, it's important to note that originality has seldom been Akhtar’s forte. Similar to her successful 2019 rap drama “Gully Boy,” this film also shines as an actor's platform. Sometimes, all one needs to pull off a great musical number is a perpetually hungry teenager marveling at a team of roller-skating beauties.

It’s refreshing to see how smoothly Akhtar and her crew integrate their influences in both philosophy and style. The characters' movements and songs often hint at reminiscent dance sequences from “Mad Men” and “Band of Outsiders.” The musical numbers celebrate the inherent symbolism of lyrics discussing the battle of the sexes, presenting a charming exchange of words.

While it would have been intriguing to hear Archie’s band try to play something infused with classic Bollywood tunes, anglicized songs interspersed with Hindi lyrics like, “You say I'm young and I've got nowhere to be/I say there's so much I can do,” add a unique flavor. Indeed, “The Archies” nudges the audience to cherish the simplest joys, a line summed up beautifully by a character quoting Jean-Luc Godard-“It's not important how you look, it's how you feel.”


6 / 10

Reliving the charm of American Archie comics, the delightful Bollywood musical, "The Archies", beams us to an alluring nostalgic 1960s India.