When too much is said or discussed about something, and when there is no notable resolution, you lose hope. You also want to stop talking about it. How the industry views and talks of nepotism is just one example. We discuss it length, and we reach nowhere. This is the one thing that kept coming to my mind while watching The Archies. And despite the fact that there has been enough chatter about the star-kids associated with the project – to the point that any argument feels like more noise – I feel like talking about it.
This is mostly because Mihir Ahuja as Jughead was the only performance that made me feel something. I went for the nostalgia, and the fantasy of it all. So the one thing that I wanted to see was all of the characters as they are in the comic books. Quirky, innocent, smart and laid-back are all the traits that come to mind when I think of Jughead. Mihir convinced me that an alter ego of Jughead was present on-screen. There is very little to his character in the film, which is sad – given how he had so much to offer.
He likes food, plays the drums and even knows how to beatbox to “save his life.” The only way the film explores his character is in relation to Archie Andrews. Jughead in The Archies is the best friend who cares too much. He is also terrified of women. The good part about Mihir is that he manages to deliver all of THIS across, and how. The not so good part is that we will still not acknowledge what nepotism is capable of. The fact that a person who stood out has no connection in the industry whatsoever, boils down to how it is about skills in the end.
There’s a sense of ignorance attached to the discourse. If and when kids or relatives of actors are questioned about the role of “connections” in the industry, they try very hard to dodge the responsibility. That is if they’re not ignoring it altogether. Mihir may be the better presence in the film, as compared to the rest because of his experience in the industry. The actor started out with ad films, moved to bigger roles and finally found a place which is significantly noticeable. And his ability to perform well is in no way a comment on the rest of the cast. It is, however, about what they SHOULD be doing.
The least a person with easier access to something can do, is accept it. When people ‘like us’ talk about nepotism, it is never to undermine an artist without knowing or seeing their work. All we expect is some acknowledgement of the mere fact that it’s easier and a lot less struggle than someone who comes from the outside. This also means that audiences aren’t expecting star kids to stop acting altogether. Wanting to take away an opportunity from someone is as bad as not offering an opportunity due to biases.
A person like Mihir Ahuja grew as he learnt – something that happens with most skills. This could also be the trajectory of other actors in the film. Clearly, they all have the same things to offer. Another explanation is that he is, in fact, a better actor. So, to say that growing up around a ‘film background’ or just being an actor’s kid makes you better, doesn’t suffice. While it should come down to auditions and screen tests, most times characters are directly written for specific actors, which ruins chances for the rest of the people who have what it takes. THAT is what rightly bothers the rest of us. If not the direct inaccessibility to chances, the lack of acknowledgement is ignorant.
Then again, some arguments never end. Maybe, this is one of those. All I’m saying is, you’ll probably feel for The Archies, because you’ll feel for Jughead.
All images are screenshots from the film on Netflix.