big bull

Abhishek Bachchan is stockbroker Hemant Shah in “The Big Bull.” (Publicity Photo)

“The Big Bull” is at a great natural disadvantage: it has been preceded by the brilliant series “Scam 1992,” the real saga on which this fictionalized story is based! At every turn and corner, comparisons are made inevitable, though this is a film and has to be condensed.

Hemant Shah (Abhishek Bachchan) is thus the screen version of Harshad Mehta, with a modified background. His brother Viren (Sohum Shah) is the reason he plunges into the stock market, and he has a mother (Supriya Pathak Kapur) while he has lost his father, who had once thrown him out of his house,

Hemant has a girlfriend in the neighborhood where he lives, Priya (Nikita Dutta), whose father wants a rich man for his son-in-law. Thanks to Viren’s financial trouble (he is in debt) and a series of lucky breaks in the stock-market, Hemant is able to wed Priya, and his brother too can marry his girlfriend Tara (Lekha Prajapati).

So far, so personal: However, on the stockbroker front, things are not so intensely presented. Isolated incidents and anecdotes are tied up and soon we know that Hemant is the king of the Bombay stock exchange, able to manipulate stocks and prices and alter the markets. As the Big Bull, he comes under the scanner of a journalist (Ileana D’Cruz) of a socialist publication and she begins to investigate his modus operandi as he goes from triumph to triumph.

Hemant moves up and up, comes in contact with the top political echelons of the country, and his dreams outclass common sense and logic. Soon, he thinks nothing of just being the Big Bull and not of anything else. His detractors pile up.

The film’s progress is cinematically deft, but there are absurd elements shown in the process, like the sequence where Hemant asks his invitees to strip and plunge into his swimming pool to see who is carrying a secret tape recorder! Also, both brothers are married for years, but have no children. In another major departure from the original, Hemant also drinks alcohol freely. Then there is the surprise family “twist” and the end, which combines real and fanciful in an abrupt and rather messy way.

Had we watched this one before “Scam 1992,” we would have, perhaps, better appreciated the film, especially most people who did not know the inner details of the Harshad Mehta scam. However, at best, the film emerges as a passable, superficial look at a story that shook the country then, made this time, no doubt, to project the overambitious man responsible.

Ironically, we do not feel bad for Hemant the way we did for Harshad though we knew all his wrongdoings in the series, and this is the biggest downer for this movie,

Not that we can blame Abhishek Bachchan: he does his best, and as far as he is concerned, the role is always well-written within its limitations. He is indeed impressive.

Nikita Dutta is charming, and Ileana D’Cruz adequate as the journalist. Sohum Shah as Viren is good, and among the high-power support, Saurabh Shukla (in a half-developed role) as Malpani, Kanan Arunachalam as Venkateshwar, and Ram Kapoor as Ashok Mirchandani score high. Supriya Pathak is endearing. The rest are alright.

Just like the film, though we must mention the outlandish rooftop set and the other decent production design by Durgaprasad Mahapatra and the skilled yet unobtrusive background score by Sandeep Shirodkar. The costumes (Darshan Jalan and Neelanchal Kumar Ghosh) and the VFX (NY VFXWala) are also well-done.

Rating: *** (Just About)

Produced by: Ajay Devgn & Anand Pandit

Directed by: Kookie V. Gulati

Written by: Kookie V. Gulati, Arjun Dhawan & Ritesh Shah

Music: Gourov Dasgupta, Mehul Vyas & Wily Frenzy

Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Nikita Dutta, Ileana D’Cruz, Sohum Shah,Mahesh Manjrekar, Saurabh Shukla, Ram Kapoor, Supriya Pathak, Shishir Sharma, Samir Soni, Lekha Prajapati, Hitesh Rawal, Sumit Vats, Kanan Arunachalam, Rio Kapadia,  Trupti Shankadhar, Abhijit Lahiri, Pankaj Vishnu, Rohit Tiwari & others

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