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|August 14, 2001||
Of bus routes and love
12B is a bus route in Madras.
12B is also the name of an upcoming Tamil film which will mark cinematographer Jeeva's directorial debut.
"The bus -- 12B -- is the cause, the focal point of the story," says Jeeva. He does not, however, elaborate on the storyline.
The tale resolves around a character whose life is poised to take one of two turns -- if he takes that bus on a particular day his life will go one way; if he misses the bus, it will go another.
And somewhere down the line, these two possible courses of his life morph into one.
It sure sounds a lot like the Gwyneth Paltrow starrer -- Sliding Doors, but the alternate reality bit is the only take-off on the English version.
Jeeva comes from the brood of bright young cinematography, courtesy P C Sriram. Among his credits are the first three Shankar films -- Gentleman, Kaadhalan, and Indian (Hindustani in Hindi) and Vaalee, director Surya's superhit-on-debut.
Vaalee, you will recall, had Simran in the female lead opposite Ajit while Jyotika, then a cinematic fledgling, played a minor character.
12B pairs the two leading ladies of Kodambakkam together for the first time since that outing -- and this time round, it is Jyotika who plays the major role while Simran essays the smaller character.
"12B is best described as a romantic, comedy-laced film," says Jeeva, now into the final stages of rushing the film through to the marquee in time for its late August deadline. "It explores the various shades and nuances of emotion."
While the Simran-Jyotika team-up has the industry excited, the male lead has escaped all but the most passing mention.
And this, mainly because Jeeva has cast a rank outsider, Shyam, as the protagonist of the film.
Shyam gets to do a double role -- which is some kind of first for a debutante.
What is intriguing is that the two roles are not of the 'lookalike' variety, nor are they twins -- in fact, the only thing the filmmakers will reveal is that it is completely unusual, and a surprise worth waiting for.
"Moon Moon Sen also has a role in the film, while a leading Hindi filmstar appears in a cameo,"Jeeva elaborates.
While Jeeva is reluctant to reveal who the "leading Bollywood actor" is, word in the industry is that Sunil Shetty was roped in to do the cameo -- and that the Bollywood hunk has produced a scene-stealing set-piece.
A talking point of 12B is the sets, courtesy national award winner Thota Tharani.
Another 'highlight' is comedian Vivek, who of late has been specialising in doing take-offs of famous stars. Here, he does Hrithik Roshan -- imitating the Bollywood hunk's Coca Cola tap dance, right down to the dress and the moves.
"It's been a big thrill, directing a film, being captain of the ship," says Jeeva, but adds in the same breath, "Having been a cinematographer definitely helped, I could execute the film faster. And also, I've drawn a lot of inspiration from the directors I've worked with, like Shankar, Surya, and my all-time favourite, Priyadarshan."
"But cinematography will always be my first love, my passion -- and once I am through with 12B, I am heading back behind the camera," he adds.
Vikram Singh produces 12B, and the music has been composed by Harris Jayaraj. Incidentally, Jeeva besides directing also doubles up as the cameraman for his film.
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