The Hindi film Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is directed by Arjun Varain Singh and stars Ananya Panday, Siddhant Chaturvedi, Adarsh Gourav, Kalki Koechlin, Rohan Gurbaxan.
Bollywood’s fetish for three friends, especially from the slightly upper or middle class, who discover themselves and their relationships is in itself a genre. There are a multitude of movies, such as Dil Chahta Hai (2001), 3 Idiots (2009), and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011), that readily come to mind. There could be a few more if you think intently.
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Kho Gaye Hum Kahan joins that league insofar as the broad tropes are concerned. This is also a bildungsroman story, one which takes its cues and mores from the social media and the pretensions surrounding it.
Written by Zoya Akhtar (no surprises there, the story is from her copybook), Arjun Varain Singh, Reema Kagti, and Yash Sahai, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is about three individuals — Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi), Ahana (Ananya Panday) and Neil (Adarsh Gourav) — all friends from boarding school who live together in Mumbai. Imad, the son of an entrepreneur, is a budding standup comic. Oh yeah, he is a Tinder buff, we are told. Ahana, with an MBA behind her name, is a corporate consultant. Neil is a physical trainer.
All of them, as it happens, need social media. The standup for making his presence felt across the young set who are the typical consumers of modern humour shows. The trainer, who handles some celebrity clients, wants to have his own gym, and for that, he needs a good social media presence.
The case of Ahana is different. She falls out with her boyfriend and wants to get back at him. And what better way to do that in these show-off times than to create the illusion of a happy and fun life on the endless scrolling timelines. And to add to the mix, there is Simran (Kalki Kochelin), a photographer who links up with Imad for what can be called an unconventional project. Being the oldest, she becomes the voice of sobriety and seriousness.
And in the fullness of time, like in these films, the three after going through plenty of personal agony and unsure moments, come together for a common purpose. It does get a bit pat and convenient. But such movies cannot have a heavy ending.
The smartness of the film is in its eye for detail in fleshing out the realities of the social media world. To show the essential artificialness in reality is a tough task. It may, unwittingly, convey the idea that the film itself is a bit artificial. But the director, Arjun Varain Singh, has daringly taken on the challenge. Even though the climactic portions are facile, the portions ahead of it carry a lived-in sincerity.
Ananya Pandey gets a good role in the circumstances that she is in, and she uses it adroitly. Her character is the more well-rounded among the three. Adarsh is also pretty solid in a role that calls for nuance. Siddhant is also more than adequate, but the standup comic act needed even more fleshing. Kalki, as the voice of reason, has a typical role that we have seen from her in films like ZNMD.
The director or the narrative does not mock social media. That would have made the film a lesser one. It shows the psychological pitfalls of social media rather than the scamming possibilities that lurk on it. It deals with the double-lives syndrome that it engenders among its users. There is no social message, and that makes it better.
The charge that the director could have gone deeper with his probing focus on social media will be there. But the film stays safe. And that is not a crime when you are dealing with social media.
Where can you watch Kho Gaye Hum Kahan in the UAE?
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is currently streaming on Netflix. There is no free trial available for Netflix.
An engineer-turned-journalist, K Balakumar’s career began in print publications as a sports writer. That also opened doors for other journalistic avenues like films, music, finance, technology and politics, which nobody can escape in India. After 30 yrs in mainstream journalism, now a freelancer for various digital publications.