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The Archies Is Itching For Gen-Z Upvote; Here's How They Got It Right

The Archies is more than just a musical; the Gen-Z cast offers an apt depiction of matters that the generation is often vocal about, delving into important themes while also keeping it light-hearted

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Tanya Savkoor
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Archies review

A still from The Archies | Image from Netflix

The Archies, arguably one of India’s most anticipated movies of the year, finally broke the internet this week with its shiny new star-kids cast and old-world aesthetics. The film was a light-hearted comfort watch, perfect for the December chills under a cosy blanket. Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s artistic vision-- a dive into the nostalgic world of Archie Comics, while also tingling engrossment from the new-gen audience-- successfully radiated in the musical feast. The film introduced a fresh but befit addition to Indian cinema, appealing to an ambiguous target audience.

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Set in an Anglo-Indian community of the fictional town Riverdale, The Archies can charm anyone, the older comic-fan adults as well as the Gen-Z, with its trendy themes of female friendship, sexual identity, and politics. In a pre-release interview, Zoya Akhtar revealed that the idea was to make the film a combination of all the matters that Gen-Z is sensitive about, and they served exactly that. But one of these themes moulded the film the most– teenage rebellion

Possible spoilers ahead

Teenage Rebellion In The Archies

At the nucleus of The Archies' plot is a conflict, "public interest versus corporate interest," set in 1964. Just like in the comics, the core ensemble of The Archies is determined to save the day from evil, which in this case, is a hotel conglomerate about to tear down Riverdale town for his commercial escapades.

We are introduced to the classic characters-- Archie Andrews (Agastya Nanda), Betty Cooper (Khushi Kapoor), Veronica Lodge (Suhana Khan), Ethel Muggs (Aditi 'Dot' Saigal), Jughead Jones (Mihir Ahuja), Reggie Mantle (Vedang Raina), and Dilton Doiley (Yuvraj Menda)-- among others, who embark on the mission to save a park which is the heart (metaphorically and literally) of Riverdale. 

The Archies Celeb Review

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At the beginning of the film, we are told that Green Park holds a special place in every Riverdale resident's heart, as they are all made to plant a sapling there when they turn five years old. So the Riverdale High schoolgoers, who are also one of the first generations born in independent India, hold the Park close to their heart and take it upon themselves to save it.

In a very true Gen-Z fashion, the 17-year-olds do not concern themselves with their young age and manage to convince the Riverdale townies to spark a revolution against the businessman. Although they are not of legal voting age yet, they are often ironically reminded, "welcome to adulthood," by their parents, as they realise the harshness of the political world.

Concern With Politics 

But this rebellion did not come inherently. Some of the characters preferred living in ignorance as the rest panicked for the preservation of their town. "I'm just not into politics," Archie Andrews claims, as he'd much be a bystander and spend his energy swinging multiple girls. 

But that's when the other friends break into a cheesy melody, "You Can't Live Your Life For Kicks, Everything is Politics," they sing, urging Archie to think deeply and pragmatically about life. This too, is a very Gen-Z-endorsed topic that they hold deep concerns about; exhibit A-- several activists like Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and more across the world came to light in their teenage years. 

Getting back to The Archies. It is revealed that the elite Veronica Lodge's father is the mastermind who is orchestrating the hotel launch on Green Park land. As businesses across town get shut down, the friends turn against Ronnie (Veronica) because of her oblivion to the livelihoods lost because of her father. When she confronts her father, she is met with "It's just business. It's not politics," which further infuriates her and encourages her to rebel against her father.

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Much More Than A Fairytale

Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, although have a generic, millennial understanding of Gen-Z, got most of the idea right. They could have chosen to charter into a safe, fairytale zone with the musical, making it a surface-level rom-com. But they decided to go deeper, understanding what the audience enjoys watching especially on OTT platforms.

Moreover, there is no fixed theme that the film can be labelled as, it talks about politics but isn't too political, there is romance but it isn't all about love; this makes the film all the more engaging.

The Archies is not ideal though, as it comes across as a typical Gen-Z appealing OTT film with heavy American influence, a sad realisation for Indians who expected a Bollywoodesque adaptation of the comics. However, the catchy songs and vibrant visuals elevate the impactful themes of the film.

Add to that a lineup of fresh faces that the audience has been eager to watch perform, (especially Suhana Khan with her cartoonish walk like a real comic character), and you have the recipe for a widely talked-about film, perfect to end the year.

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Views expressed by the author are their own

Watch the trailer here

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