Netflix’s The Archies: Plot, Cast, and Everything Else We Know

Posted 2022/04/24 18 0


Netflix’s love affair with the Archie comics continues. But this time, it is not with Riverdale or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Noted Indian filmmaker Zoya Akhtar, known for her cerebral takes in mainstream Hindi cinema, is about to give the Archie characters a desi spin with The Archies. Akhtar will be directing and producing this Netflix film that will take us back in time as it will be set in the 1960s.

The Archie comics have a strong fanbase all over the world. However, it might be running the risk of overexposure in the pop culture sphere right now. The CW series Riverdale has already been renewed for a seventh season, and the memes have been merciless. The series that started as a murder mystery kind of lost the plot somewhere in the way with one ridiculous twist after another. But the show refuses to die a natural death like so many other fan favourite Netflix shows that were sent to the chopping block way ahead of its time.

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Now, let’s find out what is coming next for the franchise with The Archies.

The Plot

Akhtar made her directorial debut with the critically-acclaimed Luck By Chance in 2009. Her 2019 film Gully Boy was screened at the Berlin Film Festival and was India’s entry for the Oscars. She founded her production company, Tiger Baby, in 2015 with longtime collaborator, filmmaker Reema Kagti. Together they created the Amazon hit series Made in Heaven, which received one nomination at the International Emmys in 2020.

Akhtar is not the first Indian filmmaker who has been inspired by the Archie comics. Rajkumar Santoshi directed Andaz Apna Apna (Everyone Has Their Own Style) in 1994. The male protagonists, played by two current Bollywood megastars, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan, were inspired by Archie and Reggie. Santoshi revealed this in an interview with The Indian Wire a couple of years ago:

Archie comics was in my mind while making the film. Aamir’s character was supposed to be Reggie Mantle who thinks he is too smart. On the other hand, Salman’s character was inspired from Archie who is gullible and kind. The photography, costumes, bright colours all were to bring in a very comic book kind of feel. That was my idea.”

It will indeed be interesting to see how Akhtar treats the beloved characters in her story.

The Cast

The three main characters – Archie, Betty, and Veronica – will be played by absolute newcomers, albeit with filmy legacies. They all belong to Bollywood families, who are popular enough that even a good chunk of non-desi audiences abroad have heard of them. Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan is reportedly going to play Veronica Lodge, Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda is slated to play Archie Andrews, and Sridevi’s (who acted in almost 300 films before her untimely death in 2018) daughter Khushi Kapoor is all set to portray Betty Cooper.

While Kapoor’s sister Janhvi acts as well, Nanda has a whole coterie of big names looming over him. While his grandparents, Amitabh (who was in 2013’s The Great Gatsby) and Jaya Bachchan, have been working in the industry since the 1960s, his aunt Aishwarya Rai Bachchan made a splash in Hollywood a few years ago. She was the first Bollywood superstar to make a stir on western shores long before Priyanka Chopra came to make a mark. She starred in prominent roles in films like Pink Panther 2, Provoked, Last Legion, and most notably in Gurinder Chadha’s Bride & Prejudice, the desi version of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, a spiritual precursor to Bridgerton.

Despite their impressive filmy families, these three have had no experience acting on-screen before. A few years ago, Khan did get some praise for a clip released from her theatre performance.

Regularly launching star kids in big-budget films has been a topic of controversy in India for quite some time. While there is nothing new in children pursuing their parent’s professions, it becomes an issue when it constantly happens at the cost of new talent who may not be so well connected. Often these casting decisions are made without even auditioning other struggling actors with enough mettle and the necessary talent. Time will tell if these three star kids have what it takes to survive and have thriving careers. After all, not everyone who gets a leg up in the film industry manages to make something of it.

Bollywood’s nepotism issue is not new. This is an industry that continues hiring fair-skinned big names to play characters they end up donning brown-face for. The latest to commit that faux-pas is Anushka Sharma who is going to play illustrious Indian cricketer Jhulan Goswami. In the 2014 film, Priyanka Chopra played distinguished boxer Mary Kom, an Olympic medalist and the only woman to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times. Kom happens to be from North East India. To portray her, the prosthetics team gave Chopra hooded-eyes to make her more “Asian,” among other things – making this akin to Scarlett Johansson’s tone-deaf casting in Ghost in the Shell that got criticised for yellow face.

Release Date

Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti and Sharad Devarajan are undertaking the project under their production houses Tiger Baby and Graphic India, respectively. In an interview with Variety, Akhtar said:

“It was a large part of my childhood and teenage years. The characters are iconic and globally loved, which is also why I am a little nervous. I have to make sure the film stokes the nostalgia of a generation that grew up on the comic and yet resonates with the young adults today.”

This coming-of-age musical drama has already started production, shooting commenced on April 18, 2022.

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