‘Kho Gaye Hum Kahaan’: Modern-Day Horror

By Renuka Vyavahare

Story: Set in Mumbai, three platonic friends navigate through life, relationships and career challenges in this slice-of-life drama that unfolds like a thriller. The trio is in for a rude awakening when they discover the impact of social media obsession on their day-to-day life.

Review: What happens if social media crashes some day and people are forced to snap back into reality? Has social networking and its psychological manipulation made us lonelier? Netflix documentary ‘The Social Dilemma’ was smart enough to remind us, “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product.”

Roommates Ahana (Ananya Panday) and Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi) along with their friend Neil (Adarsh Gourav) reflect upon this thought, the hard way. Imaad, a standup comic finds solace in Tinder, Ahana dreams of an idyllic relationship with Rohan (Rohan Gurbaxani) and Neil hopes to start his own gym but each has their own struggles.

The fine line between real and reel is dangerously diminishing. Completing any given task at hand without peeping into your phone to check social media updates can be an adventure sport today. Offline used to be the new luxury. Now it’s more of a dire need in a world that’s increasingly plagued by the horrors of virtual spells.

Has ‘Doing it for the gram’ ceased our ability to truly live, feel and experience things? Likes and follows provide instant gratification further igniting our need to document everything and anything. This attention seeking neediness compels us to place our self-worth in the hands of random strangers, those least invested in us.

Debutant director Arjun Varain Singh’s slice-of-life drama works as a scathing social commentary on the millennial and Gen Z’s existential crisis. His urban tale holds a mirror to our current state of mind. When did capturing moments turn into creating content? When did scrolling take over living? What begins as a breezy friendship tale soon switches to a dark relationship thriller that addresses trauma and loneliness in the digital age.

A tad meandering but tense, writers Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Yash Sahai and Arjun (story), smartly weave in the class disparity into the narrative. Influencers selling a lifestyle they wouldn’t afford otherwise, to Adarsh Gourav’s Neil, an ambitious fitness instructor judging himself for not fitting the bill, it’s all relatable.

Barring a few, Zoya-Reema’s writing largely battles first world dilemmas, and though authentic, this too has a privileged milieu. The plot feels ambiguous in parts. A lot is left for the audience to imagine. Roomies rarely cook or share bills. While a little more insight into the co-living situation would have helped, the anxiety-inducing, mystery-ridden treatment outshines the story. Each scene leaves you feeling restless and makes you anticipate some sort of disaster. The intent is bang on and so are the lead performances.

Siddhant Chaturvedi lends a rare balance of warmth and detached arrogance to Imaad. Ananya proves that she can’t be written off as a nepo kid. She makes you invest in her vulnerabilities and fears. Adarsh Gourav stays with you as he brings forth Neil’s emotional turmoil and repressed anger skillfully.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is highly relevant and an unsettling modern-day horror that dares to give you a reality check. It will make you think twice before posting that irrelevant selfie or stalking that energy-drainer cum time-waster. — Times of India