Does the name Amitabh Bachchan ring a bell? Probably not, if you stick mostly to the major Hollywood releases that arrive in the United States. For those familiar with the world of Bollywood, he's one of the biggest stars on the planet, winning heaps of awards, starring in ever genre under the sun, and even earning himself a replica at London's Madame Tussauds Wax Museum. The man is a big deal.
This May, thanks to the worldly tastes of director Baz Luhrmann, audiences around the world will get a taste of Bachchan's skills in the flashy, 3D adaptation The Great Gatsby. So renowned is Bachchan, he's been paid tribute in the highest of movie marketing honors: a character poster!
Bachchan reacted the poster with the humblest of tweets (shot out to more than 5 million followers).
T 1092 -The poster of Great Gatsby, something I thought to be too presumptuousbut Baz Luhrmann insisted that it be done so there ..— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) April 28, 2013
Eaerlier in April, Bachchan wrote a personal essay on his blog detailing his experience working on Gatsby. It's another modest reaction.
In the post, the actor says that when he was first told that Luhrmann wanted to meet him for the role, he "thought it was a bad joke and ignored [it]." But, of course, it wasn't. "When it came repeatedly, I agreed. Baz Luhrmann had a couple of years ago, while travelling through India with a friend on a motorbike, visited me at my office.… Now as I waited to connect with him on Skype, I wondered whether he would remember my face and how we would converse. But the connection was good, the offer for doing a small role was accepted… and soon we were exchanging notes voices and intonations for the Jewish mafia head Meyer Wolfshiem in ‘20’s New York!"
With all of his experience, Bachchan recalls his time on the movie being one eye opening moment after another:
Came the time for the shoot at Sydney, and the apprehension grew… Baz called me over the first day to his home, a warm old world charmed structure, well maintained, with his polished motorbike and a Ganesh on his verandah… soon as we sat in his office section the others arrived – Leonardo, Toby and Joel Edgerton… The next day it was back to the studio and to the cute little cottage that was exclusively Baz Luhrmann’s work place. The entire cast was there. In a small but comfortable dining table all the main artists, about 15 of us sat down to an introduction of the film its niceties and how the atmosphere of the film would be. After a quick snack there, we shifted to the main floor, where the entire participants sat down to another reading with mikes and cameras recording all that was being spoken. Then we read again the entire script, asked to move about as we deemed fit. And then another reading, in the presence of a test audience, which sat about us quietly noting all that was being enacted. This completed, there was a question answer session. The test audience made remarks, the artists spoke about what they felt, Baz gave his inputs and then we wrapped for the day…
The sets were an eye opener for me. Grand and colossal in its presence and opulence… All about was like an imagination fructifying to reality. The sincerity of all that worked, including the main stars, the earnestness of the director his crew and the unimaginable detail of authenticity, all added up to an experience which when I returned to my room, could not fathom !!… I can say that in my 44 years and 180 films I had never worked in such a set up. Thank you Baz Luhrmann and his crew, and Warners for this experience.
So when you catch The Great Gatsby on May 10, watch out for Bachchan — the tip of an iceberg for a career that spans more than 180 films.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches