Last year Hansal Mehta’s Scam 1992 took the Indian film industry by storm. Unfortunately, this year, Abhishek Bachhan’s The Big Bull, based on the same events, could not even come close to the brilliance of Scam 1992.
The Big Bull is inspired by the events that transpired in the late 1980s and early 1990s revolving around infamous stockbroker, Harshad Mehta.
The film is merely based on those occurrences, but the characters and events shown in the film are different from real events. The film starts in 1987 and follows a small-time businessman, Hemant Shah (Abhishek Bachhan), who lives a small rented chawl in Mumbai.
He faces several problems due to the dearth of money. His brother, Viren (Sohum Shah), is a small sub-stock-broker who faces death threats when he is unable to pay back the money he lost by investing in a bogus company. The girl next door, whom Hemant likes, Priya (Nikita Dutta), cannot marry him because he doesn’t own a car, lives in a rented place and does not have a stable job.
To get rich quick, Hemant invests all the money he can find in a tip he crosschecked. When he is successful in this venture, Hemant does not want to stop. Hemant’s greed and ambition know no bounds as he races to become India’s first billionaire.
Abhishek Bachhan plays Hemant Shah, also known as The Big Bull and share market’s Amitabh Bachhan. Bachhan brilliantly played the lead in a similar rags to riches story, Guru (2007), which was based on the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. Unfortunately, his performance in The Big Bull does not even come close to it. His acting is wooden. His accent comes and goes from scene to scene. He has no nuance and is a one-note character.
Ileana D’Cruz takes the role of Meera Rao, the journalist based on Sucheta Dalal who exposed the scam and later wrote a book on Harshad Mehta’s life. Rao is driven and vindictive. D’Cruz does a passable job
Ram Kapoor has a limited role as Hemant’s assertive and calculating lawyer, Ashok Mirchandani. Kapoor easily gives the strongest performance in this cast. Kapoor’s casting as Hemant’s no-nonsense lawyer was also excellent.
Nikita Dutta plays Priya Patel, the woman Hemant likes. Unfortunately, the creators of the film reduce Priya down to mere romantic interest. Dutta has nothing to do in the film except dote on Hemant.
Most performances in The Big Bull are awful but not due to the actors. Tragically, the film wastes talents like Saurabh Shukla, Supriya Pathak, Shishir Sharma, Mahesh Manjrekar.
The Big Bull usually looks good. The production design by Durgaprasad Mahapatra and costume design by Neelanchal Ghosh and Darshan Jalan are well done and bring out the era the film was set in.
The casting by Shruti Mahajan is excellent. The actors brought in suit their parts perfectly. The supporting characters are especially well cast.
After the brilliant work done by the cast and crew of Scam 1992, comparisons of The Big Bull to it were inevitable.
The primary reason for The Big Bull’s failure and Scam 1992’s success is the difference in their writing. The Big Bull’s screenplay by writer-director, Kookie Gulati and Arjun Dhawan is weak, surface level and moves at a breakneck speed. The dialogue by Ritesh Shah is on-the-nose and melodramatic. It includes gems like, “I am the chief editor, I hope you know that,” being said by Meera’s boss, the chief editor.
The characters are similarly thinly etched out. Hemant’s character in particular has been terribly written. His shallow motivations to set on the path he did are testament to the amount of thought that went into the film. To top off all the melodrama, Hemant Shah even has maniacal evil laughs to complete his megalomaniac persona.
At a runtime of over 150 minutes, the film is a chore to get through. Instead of focussing on the story, the film makes time for a romantic subplot and even songs. Coming to the soundtrack, all emotions were spoonfed to the audiences through the music. The film also contains raps with simplistic rhymes and childish wordplay by the YouTuber CarryMinati.
The conclusion of the film takes leaps to reach its desired ending which falls flat, much like the rest of the film.
The Big Bull seems like a popcorn film from another era. It could have fared better had it been released a decade ago.
Even if The Big Bull hadn’t released after the sensational success of Scam 1992, the film still wouldn’t have held up. This one can be skipped.