One small role for Big B…
(The Great Gatsby is an American classic. Leonardo di Caprio is a Hollywood star. When the charisma of Amitabh Bachchan is added to this, does it spell a giant leap for Bollywood? Not really, Ratnottama Sengupta realised while chatting online with Samrath Nagarkar.)
Samarth Nagarkar: ratnottama di, hello!! so good to see u online...
Ratnottama Sengupta: hi Samarth! Where r u?
SN: back in New York.
RS: so happy to hear from u. been thinking of you since i saw The Great Gatsby!
SN: oh wonderful! it had a terrific response in the US. after Dark Knight Rising, this was the first film that had the theaters packed completely.
RS: that’s a treat.
SN: u must’ve seen Robert Redford’s 1974 version?
RS: The 3rd Gatsby, after the silent 1926 film, and the 1949 talkie? Yes i did see Gatsby by Redford but the memory i retain is of Mia Farrow as Daisy.
SN: Why? Many didn’t want to see Di Caprio as they think Redford was the perfect Gatsby -
RS: true. but Bombay University had the novel as a text when I did my MA, and we all imagined Gatsby as anti-thetical to Kennedy - since we read the novel as a critique of the American dream - and Redford was cut in the Kennedy mould.
SN: so u liked Di Caprio?
RS: His Gatsby is something else... he’s not obsessed with merely a woman but with a pristine past. that added to the novel’s complexity. and of course, I had to see this one for that B guy. it’s his first in Hollywood.
SN: ah... the Big B has a not so big a role, though! in fact, very small and fleeting...
RS: yes I know that. His Meyer Wolfsheim is a flamboyant and suave Jewish money lender who has strong connections with organized crime, and Gatsby as his front. Lambuji himself Twittered, in his impeccable self deprecatory manner, that he’s there for about a few seconds... “by the time you look down on your popcorn to pick another morsel I’d be gone from the film..”
Still, it’s Hollywood’s nod to Amitabh Bachchan and at Indian cinema’s popularity.
SN: I remember the Twitter: “MrCaprio - he be soo gorgeous, no wonder all the ladies flockin’ to him - he be Gatsby. And Spiderman Tobey Maguire be his good friend. But sittin’ in the frame talkin’ to Spiderrman and D Leonardo was pretty darn okaaaay!...”
RS: and “they be nice and polite people,” he did say that. so what d’ya say, as a member of AB’s extended family?
SN: undoubtedly it makes one proud when u see him there. what a presence the man has! though he’s blink-and-gone, you can’t miss his style - the commanding white in his hair, the handlebar moustache, the aristocratic beard, the retro sideburns balancing his suit-tie-hat!
RS: but he adds nothing to the script!
SN: yeah... it didn’t need an Amitabh Bachchan to do that role... he’s capable of much much more than what Meyer Wolfsheim had to offer. nevertheless, it was something to feel happy and smile about. it made me proud to see him there, sharing the screen with the titanic Leonardo di Caprio in a Baz Luhrman film,
RS: i’m nodding my assent, yes yes... But just out of curiosity, does MrCaprio grab two billion eyeballs and more? Do Syrian airhostesses swoon when carrying trays up to him? Do 20-somethings in Cairo start playing Titanic the way they play Mard the minute brown-toned men and women in salwar-kurta enter a cafetaria? Middle east or West Asia, Lock kiyajaay is a byword for AB, not D Caprio. Malaysia Thailand Singapore don’t chew paan but croon Banaraswala. South Africa or South Hall - do any of these regions sing, My name is Anthony Jack Dawson?
SN: now i’m shaking my head, no nono -
RS: hey, he didn’t charge a single penny for playing the Jewish gangland boss - instead, he’s added to the grandeur of film. the director of Moulin Rouge knew he would. that’s why, on his India visit 3 yrs ago he offered that small cameo to Big B. sadly, it was no giant leap for Bollywood.