In the debate about the co-existence of OTT platforms and theatres, one can really use the example of The Big Bull and Scam 1992 to show how the medium matters. Both these creations are based on the real-life of Harshad Mehta. But The Big Bull is a two and half hour long movie, and Scam 1992 is a series that has a combined runtime of over 10 hours. Watching both these creations within a span of a few months can really give you an insight into why certain stories should be conceived for OTT platforms. As someone who has seen Scam 1992, I would say The Big Bull is more like a skimmed summary of the whole story. If there was a season 2 to Scam 1992 (not possible), The Big Bull could be looked at as the quick summary video you watch on YouTube to remind yourself what happened in the last season.
Hemant Shah is our leading man. He is a highly aspirational human being who has no hesitation in taking gambles. After hearing about the stock market’s perks, Shah decides to enter the ring along with his brother Viren. With his calculative risk-taking, Shah manages to create a fortune for himself, and he also builds this image of being the one who knows the trade. What we see in The Big Bull are the hurdles that Hemant Shah jumped across in order to reach the position of being called The Big Bull.
The possibility of you considering this movie as an okay watchable one is high if you haven’t seen the Hansal Mehta version, Scam 1992. In terms of documenting Harshad Mehta’s life, The Big Bull has done an okay job. But biopics aren’t just about documenting. It’s about making us think about the character and their circumstances. And in that aspect, The Big Bull doesn’t have anything appealing to its credit. To be fair, it’s not an easy job to summarise this story into a movie as it needs to be told in an extensive way. And that’s why the movie felt like a surface-level exploration despite taking a duration of roughly two and a half hours.
Abhishek Bachchan, as Hemant Shah, is trying to infuse honesty and originality into his performance. But one can see him slip into that Guru zone of character portrayal occasionally. He is a bit animated in the beginning portions of the movie, and it was in those climactic moments in the film where he sort of showed his caliber with subtle changes in expressions. Sohum Shah as the brother is there in almost every other frame but sadly has no real space to perform. Ileana D’Cruz couldn’t bring the kind of enthusiasm we saw in Shreya Dhanwanthary’s portrayal of the journalist. Nikita Dutta is the other major actor here who also doesn’t have much screen time.
Kookie Gulati’s making is only focusing on the external richness. When Shah is successful, he laughs like an ’80s villain, and when he is angry, he does the old school dialogue baazi. And like I said, the screenplay has no real-time and space to accommodate the gradual progression in Shah’s life. Some significant areas of this rags to riches story get skipped over a rap song, and yet they have decided to retain a romantic song in which Shah does a lot of Richie Rich stuff to woo his lady. The cinematography uses flat and dramatic lighting with contrasting colors. It just takes away all the realness from the story. One can see this frame trimming edit style used repeatedly in this movie to show some aggression in the pacing, and I personally found it pretty annoying. As a separate audio track, the background score is truly impressive. But in the movie, it felt like an overdose.
The Big Bull ultimately feels like basic documentation of events that happened in its central protagonist’s life. As someone who exploited and exposed the flaws in our banking system, the Harshad Mehta story was always fascinating as the right and wrong dilemma was there when we think about justice in that particular case. But Kookie Gulati’s movie looks at this character as a mere hero who delivers punchline in every other scene.
The Big Bull could be looked at as the quick summary video you watch on YouTube to remind yourself what happened in the last season.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended