Fans were waiting with bated breath for Zoya Akhtar’s adaptation of Archie Comics. However, after the release of The Archies’ first glimpse, there has only been criticism on how the characters don’t look “Indian enough.” The backlash intensified following the unveiling of a teaser during the Netflix global fan event TUDUM in Sao Paulo, Brazil. But Akhtar has a lot to say to defend her portrayal.
The teaser had fans disappointed with the world and characters that did not resemble Indians. Particularly because the story is set in a hill station in 1964 India, fans claimed that the portrayal did not reflect the appearance of Indians from that era.
In an interview with Mid-Day at TUDUM, Zoya responded to the criticism and asked the fans to stop being racist and see India from a multi-faceted lens than a singular rigid one.
“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? 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.”
Earlier, when Zoya was asked why she chose to set the storyline in that period, she told Film Companion, that, “When I was asked to adapt this, I didn’t want to do a modern take. Firstly, Riverdale has done it.” She continued, “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.”
The Archies is an Indian adaptation of the popular Archie Comics, set in the Anglo-Indian community of a fictional hill station called Riverdale in 1964. The ensemble cast includes several debutants, such as Suhana Khan, the daughter of Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Khan, Khushi Kapoor, the younger daughter of late Sridevi and producer Boney Kapoor, and Agastya Nanda, the grandson of Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan.
Zoya, along with co-writers Reema Kagti and Ayesha DeVitre, has adapted The Archies, which is produced by Zoya and Reema’s Tiger Baby Films. The series is set to premiere on Netflix India on November 24.