REVIEW: It’s a rags to riches true story that has captured the collective conscience of the world. Told successfully before in a bestseller and a hugely successful web series, there is little we don’t know already about India’s multi-crore stock market ‘scam’. So, co-writer and director Kookie Gulati had a mammoth task at hand to crunch the highs and lows of an enigmatic character, into a two –and-a-half-hour-long feature film. And for a film that’s ‘somewhat inspired by true events,’ Gulati succeeds only partially, as the real story is far more fascinating and exciting. Here, we are quickly taken through Hemant Shah’s (Abhishek A Bachchan) journey from a salaried middle-class man to a seasoned stockbroker, without actually seeing him slug it out in the stock market. The basis of his meteoric rise from the common man to the Messiah of the common man, feels rushed and underwhelming. Glimpses of his modest life in a Mumbai chawl, his relationship with his family and Priya (Nikita Dutta), the girl his heart beats for, takes up more time than his stock market shenanigans.
In the second act, however, the film’s narrative picks up pace, as Hemant Shah’s rising popularity and riches, earn him name, fame and enemies. Writers Arjun Dhawan and Kookie Gulati manage to build intrigue and tension around various episodes of Hemant’s run-ins with police, politicians and media, as he brazenly goes about manipulating each and every one. Some scenes stand out for their confrontational value. Also, the non-linear storytelling helps in breaking the monotony of repetitive conflicts. While it’s always a delight to see Mumbai when it was Bombay, the cinematography of the few south Mumbai locations is just about alright.
Abhishek Bachchan delivers a decent performance, despite the fact that his character could have done with so much more depth and detailing. For starters, his appearance remains quite constant from his youth to middle-age, making it hard to believe that his character has indeed come a long way. The repeated loud and fake laughter shots, look forced and his chemistry with Nikita Dutta is sorely lacking. Their scenes and an odd love-song shot in Delhi, only slow down the pace further. The film’s dialogues too are quite ineffective like, ‘hamare paas bhagwaan se bhi zyada paise hain.’ Most of the dialogues don’t propel the characters to make them look powerful even when the scenes demands so. Ileana D’Cruz as the journalist Meera Rao, digging after Hemant’s scams, puts up an honest performance. Sohum Shah as Hemant’s younger brother Viren is decent and so are most of the seasoned character actors like Saurabh Shukla and Ram Kapoor.
Overall, ‘The Big Bull’ is a decent attempt to tell a dramatic story of one of India’s biggest financial scams, orchestrated by a man, who seemed more like a common man than a con man. Watch it if you’re an Abhishek Bachchan fan, but don’t let the stock of your expectations rise too high.