Updated December 27th, 2023 at 17:16 IST
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is underwhelming yet immersive in parts
Telling the stories of three urban yuppies who have been friends since childhood, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is equally film about a generation living on the internet.
- 4 min read
Zoya Akhtar and her production house are famously infamous for making films exclusively about first-world Indians and their problems, set against backdrops that are not remotely relatable to a common Indian. In Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, Zoya Akhtar and her writing team take this very piece of criticism in their stride. They attempt to paint the lives of the characters in the film from a lens that makes them relatable by exploring a theme relevant in the present times -- society's collective obsession with social media and external validation in present times.
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan tells the story of three urban yuppies - Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi), Ahana (Ananya Panday) and Neil (Adarsh Gourav) who have been friends since their childhood.
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan promised to be a film about friendships and current generation that increasingly lives on the internet, and it largely delivers on its promises despites its inclination to preach.
Does the film live up to the hype?
The narrative is moody and effective
Directorial debutant Arjun Varain Singh clearly has a talent for telling stories that are visually striking and telling. It’s evident in more than a handful of moments that the director knows how to use ambient sound and edit in a way where the viewer feels more emotionally immersed in the narrative, like we do with music, instead of following the plot and trying to ‘think’ about the film or analyse it. There are many scenes where the characters seem to be a part of a dark thriller directed on the lines of Black Swan - that’s the kind of equation current generation shares with social media after all - loving the world out there as much as they are irredeemably consumed by it.
The film falters when it tries too hard to preach
The weakest portions of Kho Gaye Hum Kahan emerge when the film indulges its writers’ - - Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Yash Sahai, Rahul Nair, Arjun Varain Singh, inclinations towards verbalising and summarising what the film is about. Kalki Koechlin is infectious and exudes warmth, playing a 30-something woman who seems at home with people a decade younger than her, and yet her character fits in the narrative more as a reflective voiceover trope, than a flesh-and-blood person of her own.
What further amplifies film’s preachy undertones is the way the writers decide to conclude their script - it appears that there are very easy solutions to these very complex love-hate relationship we share with social media. At least that’s what the makers would have you believe. Unfortunately, this narrative choice looks awkwardly at odds with some of the rawness the film captures otherwise.
Film allows the leads to shine in their naturalness
It isn't a surprise that Siddhanth Chaturvedi emerged as the go-to actor for the parts about these laid back, carefree men characters. The Gully Boy actor pulls it off with great ease, including the underwritten stand-up comedy scenes. However, the actor’s limitations come through strikingly where Imaad is required to be really vulnerable.
Perhaps Chaturvedi feels underwhelming in these portions because he is outshone by the two other leads. Adarsh Gourav, who became a big name with the crossover film The White Tiger, captures the anxiety and underdog angst with a great blend of internalisation and theatricality.
But it’s Ananya Panday who turns out to be most surprising performer of the three. Playing a young professional who is consistently battling with a need for external validation, Ananya Panday brings vulnerability to her part. Even in the mundane, conversational portions, there is a disarming ease to her performance where she manages to look the most unrehearsed in any casual friendly banter in their group.
Stream it or skip it?
Kho Gaye Hum Kahan definitely deserves a watch for capturing a story about platonic relationships and for also giving us an empathetic (albeit occasionally sermonising) look into the anxiety of current generation.
If only the writers could have resisted the urge to preach, to lead the viewers towards introspection, the Kho Gaye Hum Kahan team could have ended up with a much stronger film in their hands.
Rating - 3 out of 5 stars
Published December 27th, 2023 at 17:08 IST