Childhood is a fleeting memory. One moment you’re wishing to grow up as soon as possible, and the next, you’re in your early 30s, flipping through the discoloured pages of the comic book that you found in the box in the storage room.
Over the years, pages have effortlessly been turned into film rolls, and what better place to talk about this modern switch than the 54th International Film Festival of India?
Day 2 of IFFI, November 21, 2023, saw a pleasant afternoon in-conversation with Bollywood writer, Director and Producer Zoya Akhtar; CEO and publisher of Archies Comics Jon Goldwater; Producer, Screenwriter and Filmmaker Reema Kagti; Founder and CEO of Graphic India and Liquid Comics Sharad Devarajan; Director and Hindi Original Films, Netflix India Ruchikaa Kapoor Sheikh. The session was moderated by COO, Dharma Cornerstone Agency, Indian Film Critic, Rajeev Masand.
Sharing an insider’s view on their upcoming film, The Archies, which is all set to make its Netflix debut on December 7, 2023, the dignitaries took turns to speak about all things Archie related.
The conversation revolved around their personal connections and having grown up reading the Archie comics to the various challenges that popped up while attempting to do visual justice to the iconic comic series that is loved by millions of people.
“I think what Reema and Zoya have done is transported what was on the page to the screen, it really is an immersive transported film,” began Rajeev. The film features several Bollywood star kids.
“It is the first feature film ever in Archie comic history. I was honoured to do this with Zoya and Reema. Archie to India was a match made in heaven!” said Jon.
Being a period film, Zoya also shared how it was important that the film resonates not only with people who have grown up reading the comic series, but also with people who have never even heard of The Archie comics before. Not forgetting, ‘Gen-Z’!
As Ruchikaa rightly stated, everybody that has spoken about The Archies has had a personal anecdote attached to it.
“The Archies for me, was my escape. I don’t remember ever not reading the comics. It was our portal to the west,” shared a nostalgic Zoya, while Reema recalled how growing up, whenever she got a new Archie comic, she and her sister would quarrel about who would get to read the comic book first. The plot twist to this story was when her father would join in not to solve the fight, but only to end up being the first person to read the comic.
There is an ease and a relaxed sense to the comic which needed to be incorporated in the film. Be it through the food, fashion, architecture or the westernisation. While Goa made it to the list of probable shooting venues, the film was eventually moved to Ooty, the hill-station.
As for Sharad, the comics were the great connector to him and his cousins. He explained how his love affair with The Archies started when every time he came to India, he would arrive with a big stack of the latest Archie comics and would trade them with his cousins. It was a bond that they shared despite growing up in different time zones.
Whether it will make one dig up their old Archie comic books again, or visually transport them back to Riverdale, there’s only one way to find out on December 7, 2023!