For cinematographer-turned-debutant director Jeeva, inspirations come thick and fast.
For starters, there is the Gwynneth Paltrow vehicle, Sliding Doors. And, closer home, there is his self-acknowledged mentor, Priyadarshan, and ace cinematographer P C Sriram, both of whom he acknowledges in the titles of Tamil flick, 12B.
The film opens with debutant hero Shyam, playing a jobless MBA, setting out on yet another job hunt. To get to his destination, there is this bus he needs to take -- which plies on the 12B route.
If he catches the bus, he will get to his destination on time, attend the interview, impress the interviewers, land the job, meet the lost-and-lonely (not to mention pretty) colleague Simran who will develop a soft corner for him...
If he misses the bus, his pocket will get picked, he will get hurt chasing the thief, miss the interview, lose the job, join his friend Vivek, who owns a garage, where he will meet and fall in love with Jyotika...
The two parallel streams criss-cross each other through the length of the film -- with added complications in the shape of Hindi film hunky Sunil Shetty, as Jyotika's uncle, of whom she is very fond. Trouble being Shetty has hopes of marrying Jyotika -- much to her surprise. And disapproval.
Obviously, the story is patterned on Sliding Doors. The moot questions are: How well are the two streams of one life intertwined? How clear is the story telling?
That is where the glitches come up -- the two lives follow divergent paths, one successful, one not. You would, therefore, presume that the characters would change. But that does not happen. Consequently, in certain places, it is a bit hard to figure out which of the two lives we are witnessing.
Another drawback would be the languid pace -- there is not enough tension built into the film and, for large chunks of time, the story remains static, with the result that you do not empathise with the characters.
At another level, Jeeva -- who insists, repeatedly, that his first love is cinematography (in fact, he handles the camera for this project, besides donning the director's hat) -- needs to be lauded for making an attempt to break away from the 'family drama' virus that seems to have Tamil filmdom in its grip.
Where you feel let down is in the fact that Jeeva is an intelligent young man and you would expect that he would have grasped, thoroughly, the underlying concept of Sliding Doors. When you find that understanding a touch less than expected, there is a hint of regret.
Newcomer Shyam has a light, breezy air to him. Well-built and nimble in the dancing scenes, he appears to have the potential to slip into the cool young hero slot that, barring Madhavan, now remains untenanted in Tamil cinema.
Simran continues with her policy of shifting gradually from glam roles to the more sedate, serious ones -- and proves to have what it takes.
Jyotika is expected to be bubbly and light-hearted -- and she's done that enough times by now to be able to breeze through with ease.
Vivek, whose opening scene is a spoof of the cola ad featuring a tap-dancing Hrithik Roshan, is a lot more retrained and, consequently, a lot funnier.
Two imports from the Hindi film industry make their presence felt -- a pleasantly plump Moon Moon Sen playing mother to Jyotika, and Sunil Shetty in a casual, easy cameo.
This film is aimed at the young crowd and Harris Jayaraj's peppy music is bang on target.
Overall, what can one say? Full marks to the intention -- considerably less for the execution.
Producer: Film Works, Vikram Singh.
Story, screenplay, dialogues, cinematography and direction: Jeeva
Music: Harris Jayaraj
Art: Padmashri Thota Tharani
Choreography: Raju Sundaram
Stunts: Vikram Dharma