The Big Bull review: Melodrama and mediocre performances

Abhishek Bachchan's film is a tedious watch

Source: SIFY

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 1.5/5

Monday 12 April 2021

Movie Title

The Big Bull review: Melodrama and mediocre performances


Kookie Gulati

Star Cast

Abhishek Bachchan, Nikita Dutta, Ileana D'Cruz |

It hasn’t helped this myopic telling of convicted stockbroker Harshad Mehta’s story, that a brilliant rendering "Scam 1992" released only months ago.

While it would be otherwise facetious to compare two versions of the same story; in this case, given that they’ve released in such close proximity, it’s inevitable.

Of course, "Scam 1992" had the luxury of time, spread as it was over ten episodes almost an hour each. Here, the rise and fall of the infamous stockbroker— hero for some, villain for others— has been encapsulated in under 3 hours.

Directed by Kookie Gulati, the film shows us the character’s (named Hemant Shah in the film) humble beginnings, his ambition transforming into greed, his audacity blurring the lines between right and wrong. When he exploits loopholes in the system, he blames the system not himself. He remains blind to the fact that his actions are unethical and dangerous. In his eyes, making money is a talent and he is a Robinhood of sorts making middle-class India prosperous.

The film seems to agree with him. We hear stories of transformed fortunes thanks to him. A liftman who, we are told, now drives a car, someone else now owns a home, a family that can finally afford a vacation and so on.

Just as you begin to get a little involved into the story, you have Hemant break into a villainous laughter that reminds you of bad guys from the ‘80s. In another instance, he refers to himself as an earthquake.

The character is somewhat similar to the one Abhishek Bachchan played in Guru, and you miss Bachchan’s heartfelt performance in the film. Here, the acting follows an obvious trail— a smug grimace when he’s challenging someone, a smirk when he runs into the woman he likes, and that puzzling laugh when he’s winning.

But then, this is a film that relies on obvious gestures to express itself—a frustrated character will crumple the newspaper, an angry one will rip a magazine in half, another angry guy will topple furniture or kick at a table, a tax raid will happen at the same time as Hemant appears for an interview. The story is punctuated with several songs including a rap number about the ‘one and only big bull’ and intermittently slips into bizarre shot transitions.  

In "Scam 1992", the journalist’s character (in both versions she writes a book) is pivotal. We get to see the events unfold from her perspective, her challenges with the editor, how she cultivates sources, her equation with Harshad, and her personal life. In "The Big Bull", the character (played by Ileana D’Cruz) is sadly one-dimensional. There are other niggling details like the journalist addressing a roomful of people not using the mic that’s dangling from her hand.  

"The Big Bull" has mediocre performances by otherwise competent actors and is replete with unnecessary melodrama. Whether we connect this film to "Scam 1992" or not, it’s a tedious watch. 

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