The Big Bull Hindi Movie Review
Kookie Gulati's The Big Bull is based on the life of Harshad Mehta, stockbroker and mastermind behind a big financial scam from the 1990's. There has already been a web series based on this tale, entitled 'Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story'. There is a difference between what you can tell in an 8.30-hour series and a 2.30-hour movie. So, the makers of The Big Bull rush through many plot elements that show how the stock market operates and how Mehta becomes the big bull.
In stock market lingo, a bull is someone who anticipates a price rise in the market and tries to drive that increase. Abhishek Bachchan plays the big bull of this story, Hemant Shah, who starts as a middle-class man from Mumbai. When living in a congested Mumbai dwelling, Shah is forced to enter the stock market business with his brother Viren as their family faces much financial debt. Shah's goal is to marry his neighborhood diva, Priya, and make it big in the financial business. Priya (a stunning Nikita Dutta) tells Shah that her parents will not marry her off to a person without a proper home, car, and a well-paid job. So, Shah strives to earn quick money. It is a classic Bollywood set-up for a rags-to-riches story, amplified by a loud background score from Sandeep Shirodkar.
Fans of Scam 1992 will remember the arc of that Mehta character. Shah is a smart, talkative stockbroker who can arm-twist bankers into the kinds of deals they would not like to enter otherwise. The Big Bull does not change the basic nature of the character a lot. It follows the same template as in the web series. Only, here, Bachchan plays him with an extra dose of charm and a twinkle in his eye. The makers of this Disney+ Hotstar film give him some scenes where he grins over his achievements a bit like Ajith's character does in Mankatha. Shah is neither a classic Hindi film villain nor a traditional anti-hero, so those scenes are quite unwarranted.
Ileana D'Cruz plays Times of India reporter Meera Rao, based on real-life journalist Sucheta Dalal. This is a very important character in the series, reduced to a mere supporting role here. Dalal's brilliance is in her zeal for reportage as well as unrelenting search for truth. Rao, on the other hand, relies mainly on tip-offs, instincts, and devious means rather than reportage etiquettes, eye-for-detail, or journalistic brilliance. I was shocked when she casually enters the room of a major government building to discover a revelation from the accounting books lying open there as if in a library.
Saurabh Shukla's BSE stock exchange chairman character is also quite bizarre. This man knows that Shah is corrupt, yet he does not even bother calling someone from higher-ups. The makers conveniently cause the character to be somewhat corrupt to explain why he chooses to be silent.
Sohum Shah's Viren is a slightly different take on the same character from Scam. Viren does not know the stock market well enough to guide Shah in his dealings. Neither does he show much interest in the wealth-making schemes of Shah. Sohum Shah is earnest as Viren, one of the two decently fleshed-out characters in The Big Bull.
The scene-stealer here is Abhishek Bachchan, who makes a compelling enough version of Harshad Mehta despite the limited running time. You could see him as the wardrobe-loving, conniving, and greedy businessman whose ego ultimately soars way over his ambitions. It is a larger-than-life character versus Prathik Gandhi's more rooted, edgier, and more grayish Mehta.