The cast of The Great Gatsby at the Cannes Festival
The cast (& director) of “The Great Gatsby” (2013) at the Cannes Film Festival

Tobey Maguire, Baz Luhrman, Carey Mulligan, Leonardo DiCaprio & Amitabh Bachchan

Today (May 16th, 2013) the Hollywood movie “The Great Gatsby” will be released in movie theaters across The Netherlands. Yesterday it also served as the opening movie at the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in France.

This happens to be a movie that I’m interested in seeing for more than one reason. One of those reasons stands out for me in particular; namely a certain cast member. Perhaps some of you have already guessed it. No, it’s not Leonardo Di Caprio or Tobey Maguire. My main attraction to this movie is actually because of one of the supporting actors; Amitabh Bachchan, who plays the part of Meyer Wolfsheim in the movie. (Click here for a behind the scenes video with Amitabh Bachchan.)

Now his name may or may not mean anything to you, depending on your cultural background and the type of movies you’ve watched so far. So if you’re one of the people who are reading about him for the first time, please let me fill you in.

As a young girl (with Indian roots), growing up in The Netherlands, we used to watch Hollywood movies and Indian “Bollywood” movies at home. Amitabh Bachchan used to be one of the most popular leading men in the Indian cinema back then. He starred in numerous movies, such as: Amar Akbar Anthony, Sholay, Don, Trishul, Kabhi Kabhie and many, many more. He also happened to be one of my favorite actors! Over the years his popularity increased and he grew to be one of the most respected and influential Indian movie stars to date. His fans lovingly refer to him as Big B (because of his height: 194.31cm = 6.37500 feet or 6 feet 4,5 inches).

Amitabh Bachchan in his younger years in  the movie Don (1978)
Amitabh Bachchan in his younger years in the movie Don (1978)

Not only did I love watching the movies he starred in, I definitely had a childhood crush on him as well. As I grew up, I kinda lost touch with Bollywood movies for a while, until I ‘re-discovered’ them around 10 years ago. By that time, he had transitioned to the more mature roles, but he still had that charm and sense of humor that I grew up loving about him.

I had the pleasure of attending a live interview he gave when he visited the Tropentheater in Amsterdam in September of 2004. Along with a group of other fans attending the interview, we were presented with a short video collage of his work before the interview started. We all got so hyped up by watching the highlights of his popular movies and scenes that, the minute he walked on stage, with his hands folded in front of him to greet us in an typical Indian way, I was screaming at the top of my lungs. (Yeah, I was starstruck, and I’m not ashamed to admit it either.) Just like that I felt like I was this child again who used to watch all his movies. The only difference this time, is that I was in the exact same room he was in and this was not a movie! I’m so happy I got to ‘meet’ him, and that I was able to listen to him speak so eloquently about his life and work.

When I was at the Pathé cinema a couple of weeks ago, my jaw dropped to the floor when I recognized Amitabh Bachchan’s face in the trailer that announced the upcoming movie “The Great Gatsby”. I couldn’t believe I missed this piece of information until the near release of the movie, and I immediately got excited.

There have been several occasions where Hollywood movie stars and Bollywood movie stars have worked together, but to know that Big B. (now age 70) of ALL people would be in a big new Hollywood blockbuster, made my heart jump for joy. Right there and then I promised myself that this would definitely be a movie I would go see. So of course, now that this movie was released in Dutch cinemas today, I made my plans and scheduled a date to go see it. Although Big B. himself mentioned in an interview with Hindustan Times that his part in the movie was a very small one (the reporter called it a “blink-and-you-miss-it role“) I still want to see it with my own eyes. I guess I’ll just have to try not to blink very much during the movie!

I’ve posted the trailer below, so you can see the visuals and get an idea of the story. I think it’s going to be a very interesting movie to see. Not just because Big B. is in it (in 3D!), but also because it’s a Baz Luhrman movie and because it apparently took Baz Lurham (known for directing movies like: Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom) 10 years before he could make this movie. So tomorrow when I’m going to the cinema, hopefully this movie will blow me away.

If you are planning on seeing this movie, or if you’ve already seen it, let me know what you think!

Fauzia

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