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Krishna Shorewala, Hindustan Times
May 03, 2013
After the unholy mess that was Australia (2008), Baz Luhrmann is bringing to the screen one of the greatest American novels of all time: Scott F Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925). Here's why we want first day first show tickets: The Story has something for everybody: a self-made millionaire with a shady past, the blinding madness of love, decadent parties, all set in the Roaring Twenties. At its heart though, the book is a scathing social commentary of the excesses of a forgotten era that disappeared with the Wall Street crash of 1929.

The Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio (as Jay Gatsby) has the right mix of intensity,  charm and inscrutability. Carey Mulligan looks delicate and vulnerable as Daisy Buchanan. And Tobey Maguire seems to have put all the self-righteous sincerity he mastered in Spiderman to good use as Nick Carraway. And the cast seems to be having an absolute ball with the thrilling car chases, confetti-strewn parties and the hysterical running around houses.

The Scale: The sets look grand, the visuals so dazzling, the trailer will make you gasp. Those shimmering silk dresses, dapper three-piece suits, walking sticks, diamonds...  For the gentlemen's wardrobe, Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin (Luhrmann's wife) worked with American brand Brooks Brothers (who outfitted Fitzgerald), Miuccia Prada dressed the women, and the jewellery comes from Tiffany's. For those who've read the book, it may seem a tad much. But Luhrmann is best at telling tales of exuberant passions (remember Romeo + Juliet, 1996?) and he is even better at telling them in a lavish, women-swinging-from-the-ceiling kind of way. Remember Moulin Rouge (2001)?

Music is central to Luhrmann's works. He got a mash up of Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend and Chamma Chamma to set the stage for 19th-century Paris in Moulin Rouge. Here, the soundtrack is as star-studded as the cast. He's got Jay-Z, Beyonce, Fergie, Will.I.Am, Lana Del Ray, Gotye, Florence and the Machine, and others capturing the spirit of a story set in 1920s jazz-era New York.

Bollywood Connection: Gatsby has the man who represents everything Bollywood: Amitabh Bachchan, who plays the Jewish gangster Meyer Wolfsheim. It's a tiny role, but an important character.

it's time: It's been a year since we caught the first trailer (the release was postponed from last Christmas)! Besides, it's been four decades since the book's last cinematic outing (the poorly received 1974 Robert Redford-Mia Farrow adaptation) - the terrible 2000 TV series notwithstanding.

The film releases in India on May 17

From HT Brunch, May 5

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