Indian actors speaking in English usually inspire confidence in nobody but the comedy gag writer. Still, some films are the better for it. Sabal Singh Shekhawat’s debut feature Fireflies is in English, in keeping with its upper-crust, deracinated characters. Its actors, including Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur and Monica Dogra, are far more comfortable speaking English than Hindi. But although the dialogue has an easy, conversational tone, it never quite rings true.

Fireflies tackles a complex subject with earnestness and clumsiness. Shiv (Rahul Khanna) and Rana (Arjun Mathur) are estranged brothers leading separate and tortuous lives. Shiv is unhappily married to Maya (Aadya Bedi), and falls easily and hard when his ex, Sharmila (Shivani Ghai) walks back into his life. Rana is an itinerant job-hopper who ups and leaves for Bangkok, where he meets Michelle (Monica Dogra). Shiv finally seems happy, and Rana too is preparing to put down his bags, but there is never any kissing without consequences, is there?

The writing and performances sparkle only intermittently, like the bejewelled insects of the title. Several scenes are slow-moving and awkwardly handled, and conversations meant to underscore the realism end up emphasising their inertness. None of the female actors looks comfortable – Dogra, in particular, is far too self-conscious and twitchy to carry off her part. The dishy brothers hold up well. Khanna is limited but competent, while Mathur, who was unfairly cast as a whiny theatre type in Luck By Chance, gives a heart-felt, convincing performance.