Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann says he is "honoured" to be collaborating with Amitabh Bachchan for "The Great Gatsby" and adds that he has been influenced by the actor's work, especially "Sholay", which introduced him to Indian cinema.
"I am personally thrilled that one of the world's great screen legends, Amitabh Bachchan, is joining the cast. Over the years, Amitabh's films have made a tremendous impression on my life and work. His film 'Sholay' was my introduction to Indian cinema," Luhrmann told IANS over email.
Lurhmann, 48, used Indian influences in his famous 2001 musical "Moulin Rouge", which featured the popular Hindi song "Chamma Chamma" from the film "China Gate".
He met Amitabh on his last visit to Mumbai in 2010.
"I was lucky enough to meet Amitabh at his home in Mumbai last year when I was doing a charity art project with painter Vincent Fantauzzo, which led to inclusion of a portrait in the Sovereign Art Prize stand at the 2010 Hong Kong Art Fair. We spoke at that time of working together and finding a project in the very near future," added Luhrmann.
This is Amitabh's first international project in his over four decade-long film career, which has seen him play iconic roles like Vijay Dinanath Chauhan in "Agneepath", Jai of "Sholay", Vijay Verma of "Deewaar", and Narayan Shankar of "Mohabbatein".
In "The Great Gatsby", which is a $125 million 3D adaptation of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Amitabh has been assigned to play the role of Meyer Wolfsheim, gambler. "Titanic" star Leonardo DiCaprio will be seen in the lead role.
Other cast members for the second screen adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" -- the first one in 1974 starred Robert Redford and Mia Farrow -- include Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, Isla Fisher and Carey Mulligan. The film also features newcomer Elizabeth Debicki.
"With the pivotal role of Wolfsheim, we (Amitabh and I) have found the collaboration. I couldn't be happier. I know that Amitabh is doing this from the point of the quality of Fitzgerald's text, the tremendous cast, and, most importantly, as a gesture of good will and friendship. I'm honoured to have him on board." said the director.
Luhrmann has also helmed films like "Strictly Ballroom" (1992), "William Shakespeare's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996) and "Australia".
The filmmaker is good friends with Oscar winning Indian composer A.R. Rahman, who composed free-of-cost background music for a video on Luhrmann's Indian sojourn. Given their friendship and Rahman's overseas success with projects like "Slumdog Millionaire", "Couples Retreat" and "127 Hours", one wonders if the two would seal a deal for "The Great Gatsby".
The principal photography of the movie began this week in Sydney. It will be distributed in 3D and 2D by Warner Bros Pictures and in certain territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.