Director: Sabal Singh Shekhawat
Cast: Rahul Khanna, Arjun Mathur, Shivani Ghai, Monica Dogra & Aadya Bedi
Rating: 2 Stars
A story about love, loss and everything in between, Fireflies is an earnest attempt at changing the way cinema is consumed by Indian audiences. An independent film by Sabal Singh Shekhawat, it explores the complexities of human relationships and is set against the backdrop of two brothers (Rahul Khanna and Arjun Mathur) who grow apart due to a tragic past, and cross paths years later due to a twist of fate. Rahul plays an investment banker stuck in an unhappy marriage, who seeks solace in the arms of an ex flame (played by Shaivani Ghai). Arjun plays a law school dropout-turned-bartender who falls for a free-spirited writer (Monica Dogra) only to learn later that her life’s baggage is probably heavier than he thought. The characters share a common sense of despair and vulnerability that eventually consumes them or liberates them.
Only one character in the film, Rahul and Arjun’s sister, (who is also the narrator) embodies the spirit of the film’s title and the life of a firefly — the fact that it glows, despite its short life span. The essence of the firefly does not extend beyond that.
While the premise of the film may seem heavy, the treatment is not. At no point does the story tell you why the brooding characters are well, brooding. Despite the desolation that the characters are seemingly going through, you do not feel compelled to sympathise with them. A painstakingly slow narrative fails to engage your senses and turns self-indulgent at various points.
A scattered plot and lack of a strong central idea loosens the grip on the characters and their individual and interconnected stories. The film however, does boast of some fine cinematography. Shot in Mumbai, Bangkok and Sri Lanka, it captures the flavour of every individual place. But the real saving grace is the soundtrack that lights up the screen from a much-extended lull. Put together by Monica Dogra, Karsh Kale, Nikhil D’Souza and Indus Creed the songs are beautifully composed and well timed in the backdrop. We would have loved to hear more of that.
The performances are underplayed and subdued in keeping with the mood of the film. The dialogues, apart from a couple that may stay with you, do not do much to capture your interest either. The look of the film deceives you into believing that there is depth of content, but what it actually offers is an honest attempt at delivering it.