Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan will be in Cannes with his bahu Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Big B will be walking the red carpet for Baz Luhrmann’s film THE GREAT GATSBY, the opening attraction of the 66th Cannes Film Festival. The film screens on 15th May 2013. Announcing the Festival’s official line up at UGC Normandie, Paris, on 18th April, the President of the festival Gilles Jacob made a special mention of the fact while talking about India being the Guest Country this year as a tribute to the 100th Anniversary of Indian Cinema.
He also mentioned about the dinner reception that will be held on 19th May 2013, the day BOMBAY TALKIES, directed by Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee, and Zoya Akhtar, will have its gala screening. Big B has done a cameo in the film. The Minister of Information and Broadcasting along with the Ministry of Tourism will host the dinner known as the Incredible India Party by Cannes regulars.
However, if we go by Gilles Jacob’s statement, the one and only Amitabh Bachchan, the biggest Bollywood name and the millennium star, may not be there for this important dinner reception at Cannes. He does not seem to have any pressing engagements back home and will actually travel to Melbourne on 22 May 2013, to attend the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne as a special guest. He will also be honored with IFFM’s ‘International Screen Icon’ award by the Victorian Government, and the ‘Ambassador of Goodwill’ award from the Vice Chancellor of La Trobe University, Melbourne.
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He could always extend his stay to be part of the 100th Anniversary celebrations and the Incredible India party at Cannes. However, the moot question is if the concerned ministries have invited him and if he will be welcome at the event. The past precedents indicate that Big B is almost a persona non grata for the Government of India and the Congress governments in various states like Maharashtra and Goa and the ruling party leaders have preferred to maintain a safe distance from him.
The possibility that he has not even been invited does exist. The Congress leaders are also critical of him for having praised Narendra Modi, the Gujarat Chief Minister, for his development work and for firmly standing by his views in spite of the brickbats received from the secularists. Big B is the brand ambassador of Gujarat Tourism Board and also part of a successful TV campaign to promote tourism in Gujarat. Though he was one of the closest friends of the Nehru-Gandhi family at one point of time, his relationship with it has broken down since the passing away of Rajiv Gandhi and the emergence of Sonia Gandhi as the power centre of the Congress party.
(Rajesh Kumar Singh is Editorial Consultant for Festivals and Markets for BollywoodTrade.com. He is a filmmaker, critic and market analyst)