Debutant director Jismon Joy’s Bicycle Thieves is a suspense thriller about a gang of small-time thieves who aim for the big league.

After giving him a shy smile, the heroine moves out of the frame riding her bicycle. The hero returns the smile with a broad one. Debutant director Jismon Joy gives a thumbs-up for the shot as Asif Ali and Aparna Gopinath, the hero and heroine of Bicycle Thieves, rush over to see the visuals on the monitor. The location for the day is a modest house near Fort Kochi.

“Firstly, this film has not been inspired by Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 classic of the same name and there are no similarities whatsoever. The story happens somewhere between Thrissur and Ernakulam and the protagonists are part of a gang that steal bicycles for a living,” says Jismon.

Why bicycles…? “As it is, beyond a point, most of us, usually, won’t care to go in search of a stolen bicycle. The gang soon become greedy, though, and try to enter the big leagues by stealing more expensive stuff. That is when they land in trouble. The story is a suspense thriller,” says Jismon, a well-known dubbing artiste and ad filmmaker.

Chacko (Asif Ali) is an orphan and ends up in the company of Bose Prakash (Salim Kumar), Rameshan (Saiju Kurup) and Rahim (Bineesh Kodiyeri), who are thieves. “Chacko’s biggest influence, actually, is Mammootty’s character of a savvy thief in the 1990 film Kalikkalam. When Meera (Aparna) comes into his life, it has a definite impact on him,” says the director, who has written the screenplay and dialogues of the film. Aju Varghese, Siddique, Balu, Joy Mathew, Jaffer Idukki, Vijay Babu and KPAC Lalitha are in the cast.

Currently, a song sequence is being canned, where Meera has come to Chacko’s house. While the crew is busy setting up the lights for the next shot, Asif, who is sporting an unkempt look with an unruly beard, says: “My character is a Robin Hood type of thief. He has no regrets about what he is doing and there are certain dramatic turnarounds that happen.”

Aparna, a Chennai-based theatre artiste and dancer, who made her debut in the hit film ABCD, plays Meera, a bank employee. “I have taken a break from theatre and am focussing on films right now. I’ve got a few upcoming projects,” she says.

What is more exciting, the stage or films? “ Both are entirely different experiences. For me, everything is part of the learning process,” she adds, with a smile.

Bicycle Thieves is being produced under the banner of Dharmik Films. Binendra Menon is the cinematographer and Deepak Dev is the music director.