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‘The Archies’ shoot in Ooty was a therapeutic experience, say Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti (IANS Interview)

Mumbai, Nov 10 (IANS) Filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti are the creative powerhouses who have captivated the audience with their immersive storytelling over the years. They may not be a director duo in conventional sense but they know how to go about a story and divide the responsibilities everytime they work on a project.

Be it ‘Made In Heaven’, ‘Gully Boy’, ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’, ‘Dil Dhadakane Do’, the two have always backed each other by one of them taking over the reins as a director and the other taking the onus of writing.

They’re now coming up with another film, this time a streaming film — a live action adaptation of ‘Archie’ comics — ‘The Archies’.

Zoya has directed the film and has co-written with Reema.

With the trailer of the film getting a good response from the audience, Zoya and Reema spoke with IANS about working witha bunch of newcomers (the film stars Suhana Khan — the daughter of King Khan – SRK, Agastya Nanda — the grandson of veteran Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan, and Khushi Kapoor — the daughter of producer Boney Kapoor, along with Vedang Raina, Mihir Ahuja, Aditi Saigal and Yuvraj Menda), the experience of shooting the film in Ooty, and the film’s music which brings back Rock and Roll on Indian soil.

Comics are a vast sea, picking up themes, subjects and narrative is a tough choice, in that sense Reema tells IANS that the starting point of this film “was to figure out how to do it because there’s so much to this world”.

Zoya chimes in as she said: “We met John L. Goldwater, the owner of Archie Comics. He told us that he wanted something different from ‘Riverdale’, he didn’t want anything contemporary or edgy, he wanted wholesome, young adult content which is the grain of ‘Archies’, with family values and teenage romance.”

The next step was zeroing down on the location. Given that the characters belong to the Christian community, they considered many locations.

Zoya told IANS: “Cities were out of bounds for us because they’ve become too modernised to set the story of ‘The Archies’ in. We needed that old world charm of the 1960s. Ooty became the perfect choice because the architecture is there, there’s beauty.

Reema supports her collaborator as she said: “It’s from the era where life was slower, simpler.”

The crew had a gala time, and why not? Ooty is one of the most beautiful places in India with a heritage railway line of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Six times National Award winner Mani Ratnam has shot ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ on this very line.

Zoya said: “While living in the city, we have forgotten the peace that comes with being surrounded by nature. Being there for four months where everyday we were working for 13-14 hours, we were just surrounded by the mountains, the green trees and breathing that peaceful air was so blissful.”

Reema talks about the challenges saying it’s a part and parcel of this business, “Baaki challenges to shoot pe aate rehte hain (challenges are inevitable on a film set), like when we were shooting in Ooty it started raining one day. It had never rained in Ooty for 20 years but as luck would have it, it happened during our shoot. But, being a professional you learn to deal with these things, look beyond the challenges and move past by sticking to your vision. In the end, every planning and every surprise on the set seems worth it, because it has made you strong and better equipped to tackle any situation.”

As the conversation shifts to the debutants in the film, Zoya said the kids have worked very hard on themselves so they could do justice to the script. They left no stones unturned before they faced the camera.

Zoya shared: “All the actors in the film at the base level are very talented. So that was half the battle won. They’re so eager, hard-working and wanting to learn. They all learned new skills like skating, playing guitar, playing the drums and even the technicalities involved in the craft of acting, hitting the light, walking on the track and other things. I didn’t feel like I was working with newcomers, by the time we went on the sets they came across as thorough professionals who know their job in and out.”

Zoya then speaks about the music.

The track ‘Va Va Voom’ is fast becoming a rage with real instruments played during the song arrangement, a rarity in the times of digital age. One could actually hear the tube amps heating up to give a nice warm and fuzzy sound in the song.

Zoya said: “I referenced a lot of music, but Rock and roll was the broader idea to bring that era to life”.

The filmmaker also shared about the film’s cinematography as she said: “We have also lensed it in a particular way to match that era. The films of that era had a certain aspect ratio, even if you see the comics there’s a lot of space in the frames.”

“We shot it how classically the films were made,” she concludes.

‘The Archies’, produced by Tiger Baby Films (Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar) in collaboration with ‘Archie’ Comics and Graphic India, is set to stream on Netflix from December 7.



Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad News Desk
Indian Abroad is a news channel and fortnightly newspaper meant for Australia’s Indian community and, besides news, focuses on lifestyle subjects like health, travel, culture, arts, beauty, fashion, entertainment, Bollywood, etc. Our YouTube channel here features daily news bulletins besides infotainment videos on lifestyle subjects.

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