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Zoya Akhtar: We were clear we wanted newcomers for The Archies

Updated on: 20 October,2023 10:14 AM IST  |  Mumbai

During the launch of The Archies' first song, Sunoh, Zoya Akhtar said she was clear about casting new actors over established stars for the film

Zoya Akhtar: We were clear we wanted newcomers for The Archies

Zoya Akhtar. Pic/Yogen Shah

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Zoya Akhtar: We were clear we wanted newcomers for The Archies

Director Zoya Akhtar on Thursday said she and writer Reema Kagti didn't want to cast established names for the upcoming film "The Archies" as stars come with the baggage of their image. "The Archies" is an Indian live-action musical movie based on the popular American comics of the same name. It marks the acting debut of superstar Shah Rukh Khan and producer-interior designer Gauri Khan's daughter Suhana Khan, late star Sridevi and producer Boney Kapoor's daughter Khushi Kapoor, and megastar Amitabh Bachchan's grandson Agastya Nanda. Akhtar said they worked closely with casting directors Karan Mally and Nandini Shrikent and locked the cast after a year of auditions.

"We were clear that we wanted newcomers because they are such iconic characters and getting anybody who is already very well-known would bring their baggage onto it or their image onto it, good or bad. Also, they (characters) are 17-year-old in the film, so we needed kids that were teenagers," the filmmaker said at the Bollywood Hungama OTT India Fest 2023 here. The makers also launched the first song "Sunoh" from the film at the event. Set in the 1960s, "The Archies" explores friendship, freedom, love, heartbreak and rebellion through the lives of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead, Reggie, Ethel and Dilton. It will take audiences to the fictional hilly town of Riverdale.

Akhtar said when streamer Netflix made her "an offer" to adapt and set the popular comics in India, the "Gully Boy" director said she couldn't refuse. "I didn't know what I wanted to do next, they got 'Archies' to me, which is one of our favourite comics, I grew up on this. I was like, 'How can I take this, retain its essence and make it from India?' "Since it's a global IP, I need to be able to take something from here and do it in a language that retains its original essence and speaks to kids today. We were excited about that. We have done whatever we wanted to and now we are getting scared, as always," she added. Kagti, who has penned the screenplay of "The Archies", said the challenge was to do justice to the world of comics and its characters. "The challenge was to take an IP that may not be so relevant today and make it relevant, and also be true to each of the characters and the world of 'Archies'. It is an American IP that we are adapting in India and I hope we have done justice," she said.

Suhana Khan expressed her excitement to have made her acting debut with "The Archies". "For me, more than anything it was about finding my feet as an actor. To be part of 'The Archies', which will be streaming on a global platform like Netflix, and to work under the tutelage of Zoya, I feel I perhaps had the best training and learning ground I could have asked for as a newcomer," she said. Khushi said it was a "surreal" experience to be part of this world. "We did go through a lot of training. We had swimming, cycling, skating, and acting workshops just to get comfortable and get into the skin of our characters. By the time it came to shoot, we were extremely prepared," the actor added. "The Archies" will debut on Netflix on December 7.

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