"Jo kuch bhi hota hai na woh kissi ek aadmi ke wajah se nahi hota hai. Kahaani kirdaar se nahin, haalat se paida hote hai," Hemant Shah (Abhishek Bachchan) quips to one of the characters in Kookie Gulati's financial thriller The Big Bull which is loosely based on the life of controversial stockbroker Harshad Mehta. Unfortunately, the makers fail to pay heed to their own words, and that's quite evident in the muddled screenplay of the film which kills some of the fun in this Abhishek Bachchan-starrer.
Available on: Disney+ Hotstar
What's Yay: Abhishek Bachchan, Sohum Shah
What's Nay: Messy writing
Set in late 1990s, Hemant Shah (Abhishek Bachchan), a salaried middle class man discovers his Midas touch in stock market when a tip from someone known to him earns him big profit. His brother Viren (Sohum Shah) who knows all of the trappings of this number game, tries to dissuade him from further investments. However, Hemant brushes him off by saying, "Jeetne ki aadat daalnewaale hi jeetate hai." Within no time, his eyes fall on the loopholes in the Indian banking system and he uses this systemic weaknesses to his advantage to shake the financial fabric of the nation.
However, Hemant and his meteoric rise catches the eye of a business journalist Meera Rao (Ileana D'Cruz) who believes that there's more to this 'bull run' than meets the eye. Further, it's discovered that one of Hemant's own men is leaking out of his secrets which might cut short his dream run.
Unlike Hansal Mehta's critically acclaimed web series Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story (also based on the same plot) which was a slow burn, director Kookie Gulati wastes no time in directly establishing the ambitious nature of his protagonist. We rarely get a breather here, maybe, because the filmmaker had to tell his tale in a limited span of time.
The flipside to this is that the screenplay appears rushed, as you barely get any time to understand the thought process of each character. The film's narrative does pick up pace post a few important scenes but one wishes that things would have began on a much gripping note! A few tense moments in the film do keep you on the edge of your seat. Kookie Gulati takes a few cinematic liberties for his dramatic story-telling, which probably explains the reason why the film turns out to be a roller-coaster ride. He settles for fictitious names for his characters and one wonders the reason behind this!
While Abhishek Bachchan had denied glorifying the infamous stockbroker on whose life the film is modelled on, the makers sort of contradict this when they get one of the characters to mouth lines which goes like, "Independence ke baad chaalis saal tak development naa ke barabar hui. Woh ek crime tha. Hemant Shah ne jo kiya woh bhi ek crime tha. And as strange as it may sound, shaayad hume ek aise hai crime ki zarurat thi, uss crime se ubharne ke liye aur Hemant uske liye ek perfect candidate thha."
When a Twitter user had asked Abhishek Bachchan why he should watch The Big Bull when he has already seen Scam 1992, the actor in his trademark witty style had replied, "I am in it." Well to be honest, Junior Bachchan is absolutely right with his answer. As a bad boy who has a nose for picking up profitable stocks, the Guru actor plays his part bang on. Except for his maniac laugh at a few places which puts you off.
While Ileana D'Cruz gets her demeanour as a journalist right, one wonders why the makers ended up giving her those falsely painted white streaks in her hair for the latter portions. Sohum Shah as Hemant's fearful brother delivers a honest performance, though this might not count among his career best. Nikita Dutta as Abhishek Bachchan's love interest looks affable but her chemistry with the actor lacks the zing. It's a pity that a talented actor like Supriya Pathak barely gets enough scenes to make a mark. Ram Kapoor as the big-shot lawyer Ashok Mirchandani plays his part to perfection. Mahesh Manjrekar and Saurabh Shukla essay their parts as expected from them.
The production value of The Big Bull falters at places and it's evident in a few CGI scenes. Pratham Mehta's camerawork is average and has nothing new to offer. Dharmendra Sharma's editing scissors seem to be blunt as it fails to add more tension to a handful of well-written scenes.
Carry Minati's 'The Big Bull-Title Track' fails to register due to its forgetable lyrics. Abhishek Bachchan-Nikita Dutta's romantic ballad 'Ishq Namaza' in the voice of Ankit Tiwari, comes across as misplaced in the narrative.
"Main udna jaanta hoon. Upar dekhne ki aadat dal lo ab," Abhishek Bachchan's Hemant Shah haughtily tells one of his opponents when he bumps into him at a temple. Just like his character, Abhishek Bachchan also takes a giant leap into the sky with his earnest performance. It's the writers who got to be blamed for his not-so smooth ride.
We give 3 stars out of 5 to Abhishek Bachchan-Ileana D'Cruz starrer The Big Bull.