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Kho Gaye Hum Kahan Review: Dil Chahta Hai In The Digital Age

Last updated on: December 26, 2023 18:24 IST
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Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a light glimpse into healthy young lives ready to soar in their own sweet skin, applauds Sukanya Verma.

'Ya toh dosti gehri hai ya yeh photo 3D hai.'

One of the definitive lines on 21st century friendship, Dil Chahta Hai's droll dialogue casually revolutionised how dosti would be depicted in Hindi films for years to come.

Two decades later, the nostalgia of framed prints has replaced photo and video-sharing social networking smartphone apps, where selfie-sized camaraderie in colour-corrected perfection resides on feeds, not shelves. And hashtags, emojis and abbreviations are the language of the heart.

If social media is a crime, everybody is guilty of it.

In this space populated by influencers, followers, stalkers and trolls, love is a swipe away, blocking and ghosting are acts of getting over and good riddance, we are our own biggest cheerleader and salesperson, validation is a like button, notifications are the measure of success and filters decide our online face because not everyone has Akash's 'perfection ko improve karna mushkil hota hai' confidence.


Kho Gaye Hum Kahan examines what it's like to share a 'gehri dosti' in the digital age even as the photos grow shallower by the day.

Stories woven around the impact of social media are a genre by itself, right from how it has taken control over our lives and debilitated our attention span to the serious dangers it poses to one's peace and psyche.

Resembling Dil Chahta Hai in its urban focus and not being about anything in particular yet acknowledging everything about the times we live in, debutant Director Arjun Varain Singh's aptly titled Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is not so much a look into its evils as it is a mediation on how much it dictates our subconscious, how lost we are in its fog.

'Sirf lagta hai connected hain but isse zyada akele pehle kabhi nahi the,' Kalki Koechlin's wiser, older soul observes.

Her Simran is somewhat an antidote to the social media poison.

She brings in a calming factor amidst the chaos Kho Gaye Hum Kahan's protagonists are grappling with.

A perceptive photographer wielding a film camera, she sees things beyond the superficial and has the patience to watch a picture develop into a portrait.

Penned by Varain Singh along with Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, creators of the road trip reunion between besties in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, produced by the latter two as well as Dil Chahta Hai duo Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, is an easy-breezy, coming-of-age revolving around a troika of bosom friends navigating life and love in their mid-20s.

Only instead of three boys, it's two guys and a girl.

Twenty five is an age where you're optimistic enough to believe, fearless enough to risk and inexperienced enough to get it all wrong.

It's at this stage we meet Ahana (Ananya Pandey), Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi) and Neil (Adarsh Gourav).

Inseparable since childhood, their friendship is a modern-day ode to Amar Akbar Anthony'S secularism but the fact that Kho Gaye Hum Kahan doesn't even feel the need to broadcast it says volumes about Bandra's culture of coexistence.

The bustling Western Mumbai suburb is where most of the action ensues after snatches of their growing years from classroom to 'chamkeele din' in Goa establish the beer glugging, cigarette smoking, pub-hopping trio's gehri dosti over a visual scrapbook and sprightly music (hands down, one of the best soundtracks of 2023).

Shot in low-key lighting usually reserved for noir fiction, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan's rain-ready ambience and elegantly set up apartments and offices finds its authenticity and drama in the little things.

Informal aesthetic is a mainstay in the Farhan-Zoya-Reema school of film-making and Arjun Varain Singh adapts to it seamlessly.

Bollywood storytelling is rooted in overstating. It's rare for minor disclosures to become the source of distress and conflict.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan doesn't exaggerate on emotions and lets the hollow hypocrisy colouring social media speak for itself.

Only 24 weeks ago, Ahana's ex posted he's the luckiest guy in the world.

Now, he's blocked her and immediately moved on to another love interest.

Gen Z's version of Kaifi Azmi's timeless verse Woh jo apna tha wahi, aur kisi kaa kyon hai is as profound as an Instagram post.

Judging would be easy and defeat the purpose, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan respectfully avoids that approach.

Rather, its anxiety over a read message gone unanswered is as relatable as its need to seek an army of anonymous sympathisers.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan doesn't give the online world a free pass either.

Through Imaad's stand-up comedian, it grabs ample opportunities to poke fun at the frivolity of dual lives led by every second member in his audience, including his own pal Neil.

A gym trainer hailing from the least privileged background of the three, Neil harbours daddy issues (Vijay Maurya), fuelled by grand career ambitions his nine-to-five working father will never approve.

Imaad has skeletons in his closet only his therapist (Suchitra Pillai) knows about and interactions with a mild-mannered dad (Rahul Vohra) imply. He finds release in sexual flings until a meaningful encounter with the worldly-wise Simran.

When not excelling at her corporate job, Ahana uses her social media to obsess over her former boyfriend (Rohan Gurbaxani in schmuck avatar), only to grab instant eyeballs in hot poses catching his and everyone else's attention.

Neil is secretly seeing Lala (a foxy Anya Singh), a fierce social media influencer hesitant to make their arrangement official.

There's a honesty to their unapologetic equation until the script rudely decides to paint her into an opportunistic gold-digger on her birthday. Reborn is more like it.

It's one of the few false notes in an otherwise delightfully disarming slice of life.

Neil's dreams of setting up his own gym find backing and encouragement in Ahana's MBA expertise and Imaad's inherited finance until their dark tryst on social media individually brings about a collective friction and falling out.

One's defence mechanism, another raw nerve, humour can be a hurtful thing.

Use it rashly in friendship and there will be consequences as Imaad, Neil and Ahana soon find out when offline reality and online facades collide.

Whether you're Neil's disgruntled daddy glued before a TV or member of the 'bros and babes' generation too preoccupied in checking their phone 224 times, everybody hits rough patches but life doesn't stop.

What makes being young so beautiful and miserable at once -- nothing is forever. Instead of hiding ones flaws, just admit it. The sooner the kids realise it, the lighter the load gets.

And Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is nothing if not a light glimpse into healthy young lives ready to soar in their own sweet skin.

Lest we forget, parents are pleasant beings.

Sooner or later, they'll come around.

Like no pressure to marry, assures one's mom.

Invest soundly, suggests another.

Therapy is as normal as those uneasy thoughts in your head.

There's no hullabaloo about a boy and girl sharing roof, Bandra landlords, for the win.

Platonic love exists, get used to it Harry Burns.

Everybody wants to know what Malaika Arora wore to the gym.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan's friendship comes alive in its three spectacular actors.

Ananya Pandey's flawless portrayal of an anxious woman in her 20s alternates between moving and self-effacing at such a stunning pace, it’s high time the girl got her due.

Siddhant's aptitude for surefooted roles is well documented but it's the vulnerability dripping off his doe eyes that colours Imaad in the most heartfelt shade of genuine.

Adarsh Gourav is a bold actor, the kind you don't even need to wait to become a role. He right away dives into Neil's complexities and virtues and makes it his own. And ours.

The trio create a candid, comfortable, free flowing amity of years and years of hanging out, which conveys a trust that cannot be feigned but is immensely felt.

Dosti gehri hai.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan streams on Netflix.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan Review Rediff Rating:

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