Indian adaptation of ‘The Archies’ sparks nepotism debate

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Filmmaker Zoya Akhtar recently dropped the teaser of her upcoming adaptation of The Archies. And while many were impressed by the first look at the live-action musical set in the 1960s, many also questioned the enrollment of several star kids, reigniting the nepotism debate that rears its head almost every time Karan Johar announces a project.

The Archies will see superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s daughter Suhana Khan, late legend Sridevi’s younger daughter, Khushi Kapoor and living legend Amitabh Bachchan’s grandnephew Agastya Nanda. All three have been roped in for leading roles, with Suhana as Veronica, Khushi as Betty and Agastya as Archie. While many have come out in support of the film and expressed their excitement, several are questioning why Bollywood continues to induct only those with a film family background.

“The Justice League of Nepotism,” a Twitter user dubbed the upcoming film on the micro-blogging site. “Can one imagine how talentless and useless one has to be to become a movie actor just because ‘mere papa, mummy bhi the’?” questioned one more. “And how many talented people get left out because of these celeb kids,” they pressed. Another shared, “Wait, what!? I didn’t even realise these kids were Indians. Basically, a film for everyone with a surname? Nice!”

Few also called out Netflix for entertaining nepotism. “Star kids getting a nice platform. Good to see @NetflixIndia acting as a platform for nepotism,” tweeted a user. Another pointed out, “Given the fact that Netflix is the most expensive OTT platform in India, it needs to have top tier Indian content to compel people to pay a premium for it. Funding pet projects of Bollywood families is not it, boss. International corp feeding the nepotism circle. Pathetic.”

Meanwhile, Nirmalya Dutta of the Hindustan Times feels the nepotism arguments are futile. “If you’re reading this piece, the chances are you’ve had a privileged upbringing. You most probably had access to elite English education and are probably reading this piece on a device that can only be owned by the top 1% of India’s population. And this is what makes the debate so pointless,” she writes.

Suggested that we are all “products of privilege,” she goes on to question, “If I can reap the success of my parents’ seeds (which I ought to, given I am a product of their seed), why should it be any different for Suhana, Khushi, or Agastya?” Nirmalya argues that some of us will always have more chances than others and “some will have to work harder” to be recognised but this disparity is not limited to the film industry.

Suhana, Khushi and Agastya will be making their Bollywood debuts with the Zoya Akhtar directorial. Apart from the leading trio, The Archies, which is based on iconic comic character Archie and his gang, will also stars Mihir Ahuja, Dot, Yuvraj Menda and Vedang Raina in significant roles.

The much-awaited project will release on Netflix in 2023.

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Originally published at tribune.com.pk

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