Shooting for the cyber crime thriller Kee in New York, Jiiva got a taste of the fast-paced life of the city, quite literally. With bitterly cold winds and snow all around them during the Christmas season, the small crew of four shot on the streets of New York. The camera used by cinematographer Abhinandan was a small one, and was largely unnoticed by the public. Director Kalees too was a fair bit of distance away from Jiiva, so as to not let people know that he was being filmed.
“We shot in minus 16 degrees temperature, in and around the busy Times Square. The city was abuzz with activity even after midnight. For one particular crucial shot, I had to stop, look at my phone and then stare at the billboards on Times Square. The crew was hidden; so no one knew we were shooting. The roads there are full of people constantly on the move. So whenever I would stop in the middle of the crowd, people around me would get irritated as they bumped into me and had to stop and walk around me, bumping into other people. Whenever this happened, they would roll their eyes and mutter ‘Tourists!’ under their breath,” recalls Jiiva, who got used to it after a while and continued with his job.
But for one particular scene, he had quite a close shave. This time, it was not people but fast moving traffic that he had to contend with. “We were doing a stealth shoot, where the cameraman had a handheld camera at the other end of a zebra crossing on a busy street. It was around 2 am, but the traffic and people just wouldn’t stop! My shot required me to keep talking on my mobile phone and cross the road as the signal changed.”
The scene in question demanded that Jiiva begin crossing at the green, only to have it turn red halfway through the crossing. So, in order to get the shot right, he would have to return to the starting point. Now this was a dangerous plan, as the traffic would start coming in at full speed once the pedestrians had crossed. No one expects a pedestrian to go back after crossing half the distance. This, Jiiva says, led to quite a few close shaves. He apparently narrowly missed getting hit by a vehicle. Not only did people start noticing this strange behaviour, cars started honking and one truck missed hitting him by a whisker! “I must have looked quite funny, always going back instead of forward! But looking back, I now realise what a dangerous shot that actually was. One of those vehicles could easily have run me down,” says Jiiva.