“We are so obsessed staring at the screen these days that we didn’t realize life has gone past us,” laments Ananya Panday’s Ahaana in a poignant moment in Arjun V Singh’s “Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.” The hustle of living from one post to another, constant life updates, and the thirst for validation from the many faceless followers on social media are perhaps the story of our lives.
Debutante Director Arjun V Singh takes us into the world of three best friends. Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi) is a stand-up comic with a happy-go-lucky attitude towards every situation, including his dating life. If not on stage, he is busy swiping left and right on Tinder, the dating app. Ahaana (Ananya Panday) is Imaad’s flatmate, a whiz who is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, whom she hopes to marry. Then there is Neil (Adarsh Gourav), a gym trainer who aspires to have his studio someday. Like any regular 25-year-old, they are following their passion, working hard, and partying harder.
Introspection of life happens over several bottles of beer; they keep no secrets from each other, or do they? Even though their parents don’t understand their mindset—Imaad’s rich father asks him to start working in the family’s business, while Neil fails to understand the penny-pinching mindset of his working-class parents, who tell him that he does not know the difference between need and want. Ahaana, a brilliant professional with fancy degrees and medals to her credit, is a pushover who gets walked over by her boss as well as her boyfriend.
But we live in a world where FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) is a thing. Keeping it private, keeping it real are passé. If it is not on social media, then it may as well not exist. We have given the rite of passage into our lives to strangers and people we are unlikely to meet since a thumbs up or down from them is what can make or break us. Take Ahaana; her heartbreak after getting dumped by her boyfriend is further amplified when she realizes his new girlfriend has over a million followers.
The unsure Ahana creates a fake account to stalk her boyfriend and starts putting out happy and sexy touched-up pictures of herself on Instagram to prove her life continues to rock. Imaad, on the other hand, who flits from one fling to another, meets an older and wiser woman (Kalki Koechelin), but being commitment-phobic, continues to see other women. Neil, who is dating his client LaLa (Anya Singh), an influencer, cannot understand her obsession with filtered images and wanting to be constantly seen. One day, when he gets a celebrity client who puts out a post with him, seeing his followers climbing up, Neil finds this as a shortcut to success. After all, the many followers on social media are directly proportional to your success.
The three sucked into the abyss of the unfathomable digital world see not only their friendship but their own identity as people being destroyed. Who are we? Are we so desperate to be seen that we can destroy ourselves and those around us?
Arjun V Singh gives an impressive and raw narrative of our times. He gets the message across simply: how social media engagement makes us vulnerable to manipulation. Humans are low on emotional quotient but high on compulsive scrolling. Siddhant Chaturvedi is a natural and is on point in his portrayal of Imaad, who is shrouding his emotional baggage under a cocksure attitude. Adarsh Gourav is pitch-perfect as Neil, getting under the skin of his character with ease. Ananya fits in as Ahaana and is relatable in all aspects. This is one of her best performances to date. The friendship between the three is real and resonates as they rib each other, fight, and make up. The dark world of social media is succinctly brought out by the dark red and black color palette.