- Movie Name:The Big Bull
- Critics Rating: 1.5 / 5
- Release Date: April 9, 2021
- Director: Kookie Gulati
- Genre: crime drama
Blame it on Bollywood that oftentimes makes films based on true events and real-life personalities with a conventional template that try to paint an empathetic image of their subject. Recent films like Sanju, Shakuntala Devi, Super 30, which have been inspired by real people have desperately tried to make the audience feel for the protagonists and The Big Bull is no different.
Abhishek Bachchan starrer is loosely based on the life of the infamous stockbroker Harshad Mehta and it appears the film attempts to project a Robinhood image of the scamster while sketching a silver lining on one of India's biggest scams ever. The film takes us through the rise and fall of Hemant Shah (Bachchan) and how he dreams to become the first billionaire of the country. Shah is visionary, ambitious and daring. He will stop at nothing before he makes it to the top but he has to pay a big price for it.
Shah's journey oscillates between past and present as director and co-writer Kookie Gulati chooses Meera Rao (Ileana D'Cruz), the journalist turned author who unravelled the scam to the world as the talking head to narrate the story. However, he pushes the audience into the world of stock market without any prior warning. Before we know who Shah is, the audience is exposed to his fate. With an abrupt start, it's difficult to concede to the premise of the film and you're left scratching your head with some basic questions like -- who is Harshad Mehta, what is the scam 1992, what is his fault, why is the incident so hyped. Of course, you get answers to these but they're too superficial and muffled that you are barely excited to explore. It's a long film with a run time of two and a half hours but you're ripped off of details and it fails to hit reciprocity between the audience and Shah's ambition. Your only clue to 'mother of all scams' is the big multi-crore figures that Bachchan and his inmates keep talking about. The investigation of the scam is mostly done through ruffling papers in heaps of files and not-so-terrifying CBI and IT raids. Sadly, Shah and his family's calm demeanour to raids diminishes the shock value.
Gulati tries his best to add some Bollywood to this retelling of Mehta's life. There are songs, romance and a helpless brother too but these ineffective subplots dilute the urgency and richness of the narrative, never providing the characters with a room to breathe or plot to build momentum. This is why despite a dramatic protagonist that is inspired by ambition and greed, it seldom has the charm to hold the popcorn thriller.
Although Abhishek has the dimension of being a man to rely upon. We have seen him doing so in Guru (2007) but still he can’t find lustre here. He loses his Gujarati accent more than often and we hardly see his character transforming in a decade. The film could have done with a lot more but the Big Bull's Shah is very confusing. I mean, why would you believe he is a messiah when he looks down upon everyone and does a crooked laugh every 10 minutes? It’s left to Ileana as Meera and Sohum Shah as Viren to give the film a skein of reality. They are the ones who manage to hold the plot together. The Big Bull loses grip by limiting its characters. It's pitiful to see how seasoned actors like Saurabh Shukla, Supriya Pathak and Mahesh Manjrekar have so little to contribute to the film.
Throughout the film, it feels like the makers expect you to have seen the recently released web series Scam 1992. Lately, the Harshad Mehta scam is a recallable tale, thanks to Hansal Mehta's piquant show which makes it harder to fall for the very long film. Largely, it is unfair to compare a web show to a film but Akin to Pratik Gandhi's Mehta, Bachchan's Shah appears fabricated and botched. However, the film wins a point for its soundtrack. The theme song, sung and written by Carry Minati is a track that will stay with you.
To summarise, with new content finding space on OTT every single day, it is harder than ever to grasp the audience's attention, especially when you serve them with something fresh in their memories. The Big Bull suffers big time here.
The Big Bull is streaming on Disney+ Hotstar.