Netflix marketed its movie Kho Gaye Hum Kahan or KGHK as the GenZ version of classics like ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Doobara’.
IMHO, the movie was sad even as there is a sudden – almost unreal- transformation in the lives of its lead characters, and the movie ends on an upbeat note. After all, there is only that much realism one can take and typically Indian audiences need happy endings!!
One would argue that the struggles of career, relationships and identity are eternal youth themes that haven’t changed in millennia. Nothing sad or even distinct in that, right?
Almost a decade ago as the Consumer Insights lead on brand Pepsi – one of the key insights I had noted around youth was the emergence of ‘Reel life vs. Real life’.
While one could see this start to happen back then, Reel has potentially taken over Real post Jio and Covid.
Apart from subtle cultural nuances like their slang, their career choices: the key standout in KGHK is how Gen Z navigate the age-old life struggles of youth in the context of social media, the world of influencers, and apps like Tinder.
- The brighter the pictures; potentially more fake. For example, there is a scene where the influencer, Lala is celebrating her birthday with just a friend and has elaborate props and photo shoot planned for the same. Aren’t many of us more focused on how the pictures are looking and busy making insta reels instead of enjoying these special moments?
- The toll of living with the need for constant social validation and comparison as number of views, likes on our posts and those of our network hit us all through the day; sometimes when one is at their lowest, most vulnerable self. In a particular moment Ananya Pandey puts her phone in a drawer but can’t resist the need to check her phone as notifications go off; and of course she assumes a fake ID to follow her ex and his new love.
- The superficiality of relationships in the world of Tinder & social media where we are constantly connected with tons of folks – from school friends to old colleagues to relatives and neighbours – yet may never have felt lonelier!
Alas, as it happens, we have been speaking to Gen Z’s in the 18-23 year age group and we found a huge resonance of these themes:
- Almost all have curtailed their social media time/ are acutely conscious of how it can consume one, unless controlled and used judiciously.
- There was an open acknowledgment of tendency to feel depressed and lonely.
- Online is seen as convenient and relevant for getting chores done; even a good way to staying in touch and making work connections.
- However, fun was all about real-life outings and interestingly even shopping was preferred to be done old-world style; in-person.
Are we seeing the beginning of a reverse movement? Will Gen Z be able to recalibrate the role of online apps in their lives?
After all, for Millennials or Gen Y – online was a boon – a welcome addition that added huge amount of convenience, enabled work life balance, opened new entertainment avenues. But for the Gen Z – online is pretty much the world they live in – and they want to break out of it! Folks had far more fun in DCH and ZNMD – IRL, wouldn’t you say?