Source: HT News Service.
Published on: December 27, 2023


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Ananya Panday, Adarsh Gourav, and Siddhant Chaturvedi shine in Arjun Varain Singh’s digital-age saga.

There’s a line in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan that has just stayed with me: ‘Social media makes you feel that you are more connected with people around, but in real, you have never been more lonely than this’. How beautifully it sums up the times we are living in, but at the same time, the film, directed by Arjun Varain Singh, gives you a reality check of the pretentious lives many are leading under the garb of fancy social media profiles and posting pictures of celebrating life each moment. The film, once over, lingers on in your mind, makes you think in the most pragmatic way without getting preachy. Given the digital age we are living in and the obsession with social media, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a well-timed, relevant film.

The plot

Ahana Singh (Ananya Panday) and Imaad Ali (Siddhant Chaturvedi) are best friends, and also flatmates, or as Imad would jokingly say, they’re in a spaceship as they give each other enough space by staying in their respective rooms. Their best friend, the remaining third of this trio, Neil Pereira (Adarsh Gourav) is a gym trainer who aspires to start a chain of fitness centers.

Soon after Ahana’s boyfriend Rohan Bhatia (Rohan Gurbaxani) leaves her as he ‘needs a break’, she is heartbroken. Pretending to move on, she resorts to reverse psychology by posting her happy pictures on Instagram, though secretly she’s still stalking her ex, his whereabouts and the new people he is following or interacting with on Instagram.

Meanwhile, Imaad, a stand-up comedian, is happy to crack up his audiences piggybacking on his friends and their life issues to get content for his jokes. When not doing comedy, he’s either seeking therapy to overcome the wounds from the past, or swiping women left and right on dating apps and hooking up whenever he gets a chance.

Perspectives do change when Imaad meets Simran (Kalki Koechlin), a photographer, and slightly older than him, but the social media obsession won’t let him stick around for long. In a parallel universe, Neil, hoping to one day bag some big celebrity clients to up his stock, spends most of his time training Lala, an influencer with one million followers, at her house, and being her arm-candy that she’s even brought him along for a holiday to Maldives. Each one of them is trying to make something of their lives, and in the process, they discover how trying to remain connected virtually has actually made them forget what real life looks like.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan’s strength

This 20-something trio living in Mumbai might not be able to wrap their heads around each other’s personal and professional aspirations, but there’s always exists a sense of understanding, unsaid empathy and a genuine effort to be there for each other. Immersed in the muddle of daily chaos, they often find solace not in each other’s company but scrolling social media pages, and looking at other people’s so-called happy lives. Their stories of heartbreak, romance and ambition collide not in the real but virtual world, and that’s what lies at the heart of Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.

Co-written by director Arjun Varain Singh, along with Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan makes you aware of the perils of social media, often reflecting on the shallow outlook of people who use it to paint a different picture about their lives to the world, and at times, even making you feel bad about your virtual existence for it’s definitely not as real as one tries to show it to be. Little nuances in the writing help the characters narrate their stories in a much effective manner, and not for once look superficial.

The best parts

What makes the narrative even better is that the writers do not opt for a preachy approach, there are no boring monologues trying to tell you about why one should be or should not be on social media. There is no rule book about do’s and don’ts that the film tries to offer, but very subtly, passes on the message that serves as a life lesson. At 2 hours 15 minutes, the film never stretches itself to an extent that it loses focus. In fact, there are parts I felt were rushed and could have had been slightly detailed. Ananya’s confrontation scene with her boyfriend, or Imaad’s tiff with Neil when he picks on his relationship status for his stand-up act, or Neil’s ugly moment on Instagram — there are several well-written sequences that impress. Watch out for Imaad’s stand-up acts, they are genuinely funny.

The performances

After Gehraiyaan last year, Ananya once again gets to show her acting chops, this time with more depth and a way more fleshed out and well-written character. As a modern girl, she is fun, free-spirited, also vulnerable, but not at the cost of compromising on her integrity. This dimension to her character gives her ample scope to perform especially in emotionally charged scenes. Siddhant is so effortless and natural that even when he’s doing stand-up on screen, he actually makes you believe that’s one of his side jobs. He demands a strong screen presence and doesn’t let you get distracted. Adarsh, after his much-acclaimed performances on the web, lets loose in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. He is way more relaxed, confident and forms an instant connect with the audiences. Perhaps the most layered characters out of the three protagonists, Adarsh never appeared overwhelmed, and holds his ground.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan packages as a coming of age tale in a simplistic yet impactful manner. There’s nothing over-the-top about the storytelling. The dialogues, too, are simple and relatable. The emotions shown vary in their nature, but the story never meanders. If Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is indeed correct when it says a person on an average checks their phone 234 times in a day, it’s a no brainer why a film like this makes for a compelling watch. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is now streaming on Netflix.

Disclaimer: Except the headline and synopsis, this story has been taken from the HT News Service.