Amitabh Bachchan is set to grace the red carpet at Cannes this May after Baz Luhrmann’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ – in which the Bollywood legend has a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo – was announced as the opening film of the Festival.
Luhrmann’s adaptation of the venerable F Scott Fitzerald novel features an A-List cast including Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio, who will join Amitabh at the opening gala of the world’s pre-eminent film festival.
“It was also conveyed to me by Baz Luhrmann that ‘The Great Gatsby‘ shall be premiered in New York on the 1st of May and that… and this is hugely celebratory… it shall be the opening film at the Cannes (International) Film Festival, on May 15,” Amitabh posted on his blog.
“This is great news, and even though there is only half-a-blink-and-you-miss role for me, I am delighted for Baz and Leonardo and Toby, and Carey Mulligan and all those that worked on the project,” the actor added.
Mr Bachchan is expected to be accompanied on the famed Croisette by his daughter-in-law Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, a former Cannes jury member.
Set in New England during the “Roaring Twenties” the timeless and elegant ‘The Great Gatsby’ is widely considered one of the finest novels of the 20th century.
Australian director Luhrmann – whose previous credit include such lavish productions as Moulin Rouge and Australia – is the latest in a long line of directors and producers to have adapted the book.
Amitabh, whose role lasts less than a minute, plays Meyer Wolfsheim, resplendent in a Fedora and handle-bar moustache; an alleged sports fixer and shady business associate of Gatsby, played by DiCaprio.
Mr Bachchan told The Hindustan Times in 2012 that he had agreed to make his Hollywood debut as a “Gesture of Goodwill”: “Baz Luhrmann was touring India on a motorcycle couple of years ago..going all over the country. He dropped in at my office with a friend who did some painting work for me. We just had a casual conversation and he left.”
“He called me again in 2011 and said he has a small role for me, which he felt was not worthy for me. He asked if I would do it and I readily agreed. I did it as a gesture. It is not remunerative…I have not charged anything…just a gesture,” he added.
The presence of “Big B” – the elder statesman of Bollywood – at the 66th edition of Cannes has added significance after the festival chose India as its’ ‘Guest Country’ for 2013, marking 100 years of Indian Cinema.
India is the third country to be honoured as a Guest Country, after Egypt in 2011 and Brazil in 2012: Mr Bachchan is expected to head a large delegation of Indian actors and filmmakers heading to the French Riviera come May.
The 66th Cannes Film Festival runs from May 15 – 26.
– Staff Reporter