We are set to enter Zoya Akhtar’s Archiesverse, but not until next year. Last weekend the trailer of the much-hyped OTT film The Archies was out and people can’t keep quiet. While some are looking forward to seeing their fave Riverdale characters come to life others are slamming the movie saying the film is not relatable.
Three star kids are to debut with this film which has again brought the debate on nepotism to the forefront. Suhana Khan (Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter), Kushi Kapoor (Boney Kapoor and Sridevi’s daughter) and Agastya Nanda (Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson) will be seen on screen for the first time along with other casts.
Though I must confess I loved reading Archies comics but they were not the only ones I read. I depended on the friendly neighbourhood book lending library for my dose of Riverdale high. I remember getting a glimpse of Indian Riverdale characters in Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, but the film did have Indian elements.
Here are some reasons that The Archies by Zoya Akhtar is facing flak.
Now that audience has got the taste of OTT hits like Mirzapur, The Family Man, Scam 92 and Guilty Minds, which showcase Indianess, The Archies seems far-fetched. The comics are set in Riverdale an American suburb. The Archies were popular at one point because people around the world got a glimpse of American teenage life. Now with more and more people travelling and studying and moving to the USA, they realise that the Archies life is unreal. As one Twitter user has rightly said, “Well, as a course correction they are making "the Archies" in India where a bunch of kids of Indian actors are dressed up to look like white teens in 60s western clothes. Only problem is 99% of Indians don't know what the f$ck ARCHIES is.” While another wrote, “Just saw an ad of ‘The Archies’ by Zoya Akhtar with a handful of star kids dressed as Europeans, how disconnected from your country do you need to be to make such films?”
All 80s kids didn’t have just Archies comics
Ask any 80s kids, they had Tinkle, Chandamama, Champak, Amar Chitra Katha, Chacha Choudhry for company. They were all made in India and told Indian stories, they were based closer home. While Archies comics told American stories and even cost more. As one Twitter user put it, “Why are we even dabbling at taking a movie adaptation of a US-based comic book series and narrative with Indian audiences? 90% of the population can't even connect to The Archies. What ra Netflix.”
The nepotism debate
“What privilege & nepotism look like in one frame!” wrote a Twitter user while sharing the poster. With three star kids making a debut with this movie there is bound to be controversy. Did the producer and director take a screen test for the cast? We don’t know. How and why were they selected? Is a valid debate. Though this is their first movie and we will only get to know of their talent once the film releases. It’s not that kids of stars don’t have talent but they do have to prove themselves. And all three have heavy mantles to carry.
It smacks of ‘white’ privilege
Fans are saying looking at the poster and trailer that it seems like a movie with a white cast, as only people with light coloured skin are in it. India is a diverse country and any cast which overlooks this part is bound to face flak. “I would love to watch the Archies when it comes out on Netflix but my God can we EVER get some darker indian ppl in bollywood like I know dam well.” Wrote a Twitter user.
Also, when you read the comics the characters are all white rich spoilt kids. For this very reason, the comics have faced a lot of criticism too.
The views expressed are the author's own.