An Open Letter To Zoya Akhtar On Her Latest Film Kho Gaye Hum Kahan

Thank you, Zoya, for your nuanced storytelling and subtle social commentary, and the way you overturn certain tropes.

Zoya, your perspectives are so relatable and modern that sometimes I feel you are my alter-ego. Your comments and observations through your movies are finely nuanced yet relevant. You are so immensely gifted in your craft and express your observations with such subtlety that anyone might well choose to ignore them as simple humour. Be it the sarcasm around the snobbery of the uber-rich through ‘Bagwati’ in ZNMD or the frustrated, social commentary through the character of Safeena in Gully Boy – the list is endless.

Your movies have always been a delight as well as a revelation.

Kho Gaye Hùm Kahan is the latest to join this elite bandwagon. By now, we all know the main plot and the journey of the characters. The movie showcases serious issues of child abuse, family traumas, celebrity trolling, online stalking, nepotism, and so on.

However, in this letter, I shall focus on the subtle commentaries made by you throughout the movie. And like a master craftsman, these commentaries make less noise but create a heavy impact.

“A girl and boy can never be friends” huh?!

You pick up the-bogus-Bollywood-theory of – ‘ladka-ladki dost nahi ban sakte’ and shatter it to the core by showing this intimate, sensitive bonding of three childhood friends – Ahana, Imaad and Neil. These kids representing different religious backgrounds cannot be just ‘luck by chance’. Rather, their varied backgrounds question the stereotyped religious portrayals and uphold pure friendship – bereft of any prejudices. What a masterstroke, Zoya!

Great use of a Bollywood trope!

As the kids devise their idea of a startup, Imaad gleefully says – ‘Iss dosti ko rishtedari mein badalte hain’. (Let us change this friendship into a family relationship). Once again, you brilliantly use this hackneyed Bollywood trope signalling marriages to indicate a new business venture, a partnership among friends, and a career turnaround. Such a refreshing take Zoya!

Driven female characters

Ahana – the only girl in the gang – has the strongest business acumen among them. This is something we saw in Dil Dhadakne Do – where Ayesha (played by Priyanka Chopra) was way smarter than Kabir (played by Ranveer Singh). This time, it is done very casually and unlike Ayesha, everyone here accepts and accolades Ahana’s smartness. Zoya, what a joy it is to see such driven female characters on screen!

Malaika Arora is shown as the ultimate fitness freak and it’s about time that everyone respects this helluva woman for her insane discipline. She comes across as NOT ONLY SEXY but disciplined, warm and strong. Zoya – How I love you for this!!

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And that scene where Ahana’s Mum asks her to not go after Rohan and focus on the start-up – felt so liberating. I hope every mother backs their daughter’s career. After all, financial independence is the crux of female empowerment! Zoya, this validation is the need of the hour!

A film through a very humane gaze

Kho Gaye Hum Kahan leaves you content and hopeful. The gaze is so humane and progressive, never trying to label the characters, but focusing on their traumas and their inner journeys to redemption.

Zoya, keep telling your stories and keep sharing your insights. We need more like you!

A few gems from the movie  –

‘This generation does not know the difference between need and want’.

‘Those who have friends, don’t need followers’.


Thank You, Zoya Akhtar!

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About the Author

Gargi Ghosh Das

I believe that words are the most powerful medium of expression that can reach the bottomless pit of our minds, thoughts and emotions. And in doing so, we can create a sisterhood of shared dreams read more...

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