Coming-of-age young adult films can be a game changer if made well. It offers a perspective that other comedy or romantic films do not offer. A generation goes through an emotional and physical struggle of their own, and there is no end to learning from the past mistakes one has made. Coming-of-age films and shows delve deep into the individual mind and help people understand another generation.
Wake Up Sid (2009)
Wake Up Sid was Ayaan Mukherjee’s first outing as a director. As a young artist, his fresh approach to relationships and friendship was very evident in the film. Even though Wake Up Sid was primarily a film set in an urban milieu with young college students from the city trying to figure their lives out, the core of the film was the bond shared between Sid and his friends from college. Sid’s relationship with Aisha was a lot more mature than what was portrayed in Hindi movies before that point.
Meanwhile, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan also takes inspiration from this film and explores the dilemmas of the current generation, which is clueless and obsessed with apps that further alienate them from reality. Ahana was obsessed with validation from random people and her ex-boyfriend on social media apps. Imaad, on the other hand, was addicted to dating apps and meeting women only for physical gratification. Neil was obsessed with his secret fling with his client and mistook infatuation for love. Neil was detached from reality.
As shown in Wake Up Sid, a falling out between friends is common; the same is showcased in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. It is only the fights with friends that would be infuriating because there is a lot of understanding and love that is expected from friendships. If that does not come naturally, a falling out is inevitable, but maturity brings them back together.
Lakshya was supposed to be a film that mirrored Farhan Akhtar’s life, as said by an actor during an interview. Lakshya, the second directorial venture by the amazing Farhan Akhtar, was about a young man trying to find a foothold in life after graduating from college and seeking a purpose to take his life forward. There is no doubt most of the characters in Farhan Akhtar’s films come from a background of opulence and privilege, which does not mean their stories should not be told. Karan Shergill, a young college graduate, was struggling with the military training he had joined willingly. A breakup allowed him to find perspective and take his life seriously.
Neil and Imaad in the film Kho Gaye Hum Kahan went through similar catharsis, which allowed them to look in the mirror and reflect on the flawed people they were. Imaad admitted to his childhood trauma of being abused, and Neil also comes to terms with his insecurity and seeks happiness in the friends and family around him.
Imtiaz Ali’s best work, till date, must be mentioned in this list of films that cover the coming-of-age genre. In this film, Ved is a man who seems to have left quite the impression on Tara during their meeting in Corsica, France. Though Tara waited years to meet Ved, the latter turned out to be a lot more mundane than he portrayed himself to be. Ved’s difficult transformation and the journey of self-discovery, aided by Tara, were the highlights of Tamasha. In Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, Arjun Varain Singh, through simple writing, also projects the confusion the current generation is in. The pressure to put everything out on social media just to follow the crowd.
Ved in Tamasha was a victim of the robotic conditioning toward earning and settling down instead of following his heart’s desire. Ahana, Imaad, and Neil are also stuck on the conveyor belt, as there is no breaking away from the apps that they believe define them. Instead of following their passion, these apps dominate their lives. They vow to find happiness in the work they do passionately at the end of Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. Neil’s damaged relationship with his father could be compared to Ved’s fractured bond with him. Both the men in the respective films found a way to respect each other’s goals.
Dil Chahta Hai (2001)
Farhan Akhtar’s breakthrough directorial debut was about urban friendships as three men try to find a foothold in life. The aimlessness portrayed on the screen is realistic, and it is reminiscent of the youth of that generation living in cities like Mumbai. Dil Chahta Hai caught the essence of that generation and set a benchmark for films that were later made in this genre. Dil Chahta Hai and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan are produced by Excel Entertainment. This production house is known to have given Hindi cinema some good slice of life and coming-of-age dramas that left a lasting impression on the audience. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan is heavily inspired by Dil Chahta Hai, as the characters in both films are driven by friendship. Both sets of friends in the respective films come back to each other, seeking solace.
Dear Zindagi (2016)
Gowri Shinde’s second film also had female-led storytelling, with Kiara, a well-reputed cinematographer, confronting her childhood trauma of abandonment. Kiara seeks a mental health professional to break her pattern and understand the reason her romantic relationships were failing before they took off. The female lead taking some help from a professional was groundbreaking in Hindi cinema, and this was probably the first time mental health issues were at the forefront of the plot of the film. The lead actress eventually discovers the answers she was looking for, which sets her free from the burdens of her past.
Imaad in Kho Gaye Hum Kahan was struggling to come to terms with his childhood trauma and losing his mother at a young age. Though he was lost during his therapy sessions, he eventually understood it might help him find a breakthrough regarding the trauma of being abused as a child by an acquaintance. Imaad breaking down at the end of the film by acknowledging his abuse was a leap forward so that it did not affect his future relationships.
Jaane Tu, Ya Jaane Na (2008)
This Abbas Tyrewala sleeper hit was a mellowed version of ‘Pyaar Dosti Hai’ as said by Rahul in Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. This film managed to create a niche for itself by portraying college friendships and life after the campus realistically. Friends who know each other well but soon slowly drift apart as college ends and life begins. Amidst all of this, love is discovered unexpectedly, which causes mayhem in their personal lives. Kho Gaye Hum Kahan was also about friendships and how everyone is ignorant of who each person is. The deep understanding of friendship explored in the film remains the highlight, and that could be the only comparison made with this 2008 film that is layered with comedy and drama.
Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011)
Another Excel Production film directed by Zoya Akhtar can be compared with the production house’s brand new Netflix feature, Kho Gaye Hum Kahan. The Zoya Akhtar film was about self-discovery and friends coming back together after a long gap. The brewing tension between two friends is just the tip of the iceberg. The film was also about forgiving your loved ones for deeply hurting them and about friends coming to terms with each other’s flaws. In Farhan Akhtar and Zoya Akhtar’s venture Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, the falling out between two close friends was imminent. Imaad and Neil’s disdain for falling in love only made it worse until one of them was in trouble. Both the men were each other’s in times of distress, and forgiveness came easily to them.
Vikramaditya Motwane’s stellar debut through Udaan put everyone associated with the film on the map. Self-discovery was the overall theme of the show: young kids go through in high school. Rohan was the epitome of a sensitive kid who went from being a mellow teen to a young boy taking charge of his life away from abuse. Rohan, despite making mistakes, was punished for being himself, and the constant pressure of being perfect made Rohan take extreme steps. In Kho Gaye Hum Kahan, the writers carefully added the social media element that acts like a bully, which pressurizes young men and women to be on them every day. The pressure of being someone else is a common factor between the two films, and the lead breaking away from their toxic lives is what makes Udaan like Kho Gaye Hum Kahan.