Do you live your life IRL or on social media? What is truth and what is pretend? Kho Gaye Hum Kahan grafts the concerns of millennials and Gen-Z in the digital age onto the coming-of-age story of three friends.

Directed by Arjun Varain Singh and written by him, Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, the film is out on Netflix. A statistic states that people apparently check their phone over 220 times a day. “We have become addicted to other people’s lives,” says a character, a sample of the relatable and easygoing dialogue written by Yash Sahai.

Imaad (Siddhant Chaturvedi) is a stand-up comic who is commitment-phobic and has an unhealthy relationship with Tinder. Neil (Adarsh Gourav) is a fitness instructor with a chip on his shoulder who is struggling with Instagram-accelerated aspirations and influencer culture. Imaad’s flatmate Ahana (Ananya Panday) has a steady job and a steady boyfriend until Rohan (Rohan Gurbaxani) dumps her.

Bad decisions in the lives of these twenty-somethings are spurred by emotional upheavals, relationship drama and ambition. The material for Imaad’s act, his childhood experiences, his privilege and romantic relationships (or the lack of them) lead to all kinds of friction in his life. It’s no different for Ahana, who is unable to see how she is enabling behaviour and reactions to assuage hurt. Neil’s situation is slightly more complex as he hobnobs with the rich and famous at work, but his aspirations collide with his middle-class upbringing.

The supporting cast includes Anya Singh as social media influencer Lala, Kalki Koechlin as photographer Simran, Vijay Maurya is Neil’s father, Kashyap Kapoor as Imaad’s manager and Rahul Vohra as Imaad’s father.

Hone Do Jo Hota Hai, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan (2023).

Chaturvedi is at ease on stage during the comedy acts (written by Sapan Verma), while Panday is highly convincing as the jilted obsessive stalker seeking social media validation. The emotional heft comes from Adarsh Gourav’s performance.

Neil’s problems seem the most real and textured and the least borne out of entitlement. That’s credit to both the characterisation and Gourav’s interpretation of the conflicted young man who makes a few questionable judgement calls.

At 134 minutes, the story does strain at the seams. But debutant Singh assuredly directs this Mumbai-set saga that serves to remind a generation to stop and smell the flowers, be aware of the falsehood of social media influencers, set aside devices and gadgets and look up at the sky. In that aspect, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is a timely tale that speaks directly to Gen-Z.

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan (2023).