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The Archies Backlash Continues And It Isn’t Just Related To Nepotism

Ahead of its release, Zoya Akhtar’s ‘The Archies’ has been lambasted for several reason, and it isn’t just about nepotism.

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A poster of 'The Archies'.

THE Archies trailer has nothing Indian about it.’ ‘Is it not pointless to have filmmaker Zoya Akhtar show the Archie’s gang in a Western set-up when there is already enough content?’ ‘Was India more developed and looked like Europe in 60s?’ ‘99% of population of India won’t relate to this!’ Social media is flooded with similar reactions that range from mockery to disgust.

These reactions to the recently released trailer of The Archies –  starring Suhana Khan, Khushi Kapoor, Agastya Nanda, Mihir Ahuja, Dot, Yuvraj Menda, and Vedang Raina – explain why the desi twist to the popular comic didn’t go down well with the viewers. Even though the trailer has sparked the nepotism debate, the viewers have been more vocal about the lack of connect with the film because it is too Western and detached from reality.

https://twitter.com/Cricandcine/status/1670482338659147776

For the unversed, The Archies is the Indian adaptation of the popular Archie Comics. It’s set in the Anglo-Indian community at a fictional hill station in India called Riverdale back in 1964.

Zoya Akhtar Slams Trolls Calling The Archies ‘Too White’

Take a closer look at the movie’s trailer and you’d find it isn’t different from what Zoya had offered in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) and Dil Dhadakne Do (2015). Much like the two Bollywood hits, The Archies also revolves around good-looking rich people enjoying life. Of course, the film will introduce a conflict, but the viewers aren’t made aware of it in the trailer.

In an interview with Mid-Day at the Netflix TUDUM event that had happened in Brazil, director Zoya reacted to the negative reactions the film’s trailer for being “too white”. “Why do you think that? They’re all Indian. This is kind of reverse (racism). Are you saying fair Indians are not Indians? How do we define what an Indian looks like?”

While citing examples of diversity in India, she said, “It could be Hrithik Roshan, it could be Mr. Rajinikanth, it could be Diljit Dosanjh, it could be Mary Kom. That’s the beauty of India. There are a lot of Indians that are light-skinned.”

But the netizens remain unconvinced.

Speaking about the film, in an interview Film Companion, Zoya had earlier said, ‘When I was asked to adapt this, I didn’t want to do a modern take. Firstly, Riverdale has done it. Secondly, it’s not my experience of Archies. My experience of Archies is a simpler time, a more innocent time, a gentler time, where less is more. I wanted to go back to that. I wanted to keep the essence of the comic and find a way for it to resonate with young adults today.’

Is It A Movie Or A Clothing Commercial?

Several Twitter users also referred to the treatment of Zoya’s The Archies featuring “star kids dressed as Europeans” as “weird”. Even though the film is similar to what we have seen in Zoya’s earlier releases, the viewers don’t find it relatable.

From the aesthetic to every character’s fashion choice and the movie’s background score, every aspect is Western hence, unconvincing. The viewers don’t need a stereotypical portrayal of Indians. But the Indian youth from cities share no resemblance with what Zoya had showed in her trailer. Unfortunately, they don’t remind the viewers of the original characters too. Instead, it reminds people of a new commercial from a popular fashion brand.

Brings The Nepotism Debate To The Fore, Again

Ever since Kangana Ranaut referred to the ace director Karan Johar as “the flag-bearer of nepotism” on his chat show, there have been several debates on the existence of nepotism in Indian showbiz industry.

Many have taken a dig at the trailer for it is the perfect platform to launch high-profile debutants including Amitabh Bachchan’s grandson Agastya Nanda, Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, Sridevi and Boney Kapoor’s daughter Khushi Kapoor among others.

It may have been easier for the star kids to bag Zoya’s film. However, it will be interesting to see if the viewers will accept them with open arms or leave them in the lurch especially when Hindi film industry continues to deal with an outsider-vs-insider debate.

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