I was constantly thinking about one similarity while I was watching the Big Bull yesterday. It was the year 1984 when three Hindi movies were released on the same storyline. There was Inquilaab featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Sridevi, then there was Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar featuring Rajesh Khanna and Shabana Azmi and then there was Yeh Desh featuring Jeetendra and Zeenat Aman. All three movies talked about how a simple man after some struggle, becomes a politician and starts doing the same what he used to oppose when he was just a common man.
But because of the star power, Amitabh Bachchan’s Inquilaab was an instant hit and the rest of the two were big flops. Although in my personal view, Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar had a better script than the other two. Anyways, it is a fact that whenever there are two movies or even a web series or a serial, is made of almost the same storyline one has to suffer. The reasons may be different, they can be being the first one to release, better star cast or better story or the script.
In 1984 Amitabh Bachchan won the triangular battle because of his star power but after almost 37 years his son Abhishek Bachchan may find himself on the wrong side of the one-on-one battle. The Big Bull tells us the story of Harshad Mehta who enacted a huge financial and banking scam in 1992, but the same story has been told last year in November when Scam 1992 was released on Sony Liv as a web series. So we all were aware of the storyline and hence the sense of getting surprised found totally missing while watching The Big Bull.
Not only the known story is the problem with The Big Bull, but the way it has been presented is also a problem, and mind you that is a huge problem as well with it. In a web series, one can detail the story he wants to tell, but in a movie, he has only two and a half hours or a maximum of three hours to explain everything. The first and the major problem this movie has is this shortage of time to explain the story in detail.
Scam 1992 series has 10 episodes with a length of average 50 minutes per episode that furnishes the writer and the director of the series a whopping 500 minutes of storytelling. So Scam 1992 gave us each and every detail of Harshad Mehta’s life. The writer had freedom and space to develop not only the story but each and every character he presented in the storyline. Even the small characters like the office bearers of Manu Mundra have become immortal due to this freedom and the huge space.
Whereas in The Big Bull, there is no such freedom for the writer and thus if you have already watched Scam 1992, you will find plenty of missing parts and incompletion in the narration. In Scam 1992 apart from Harshad Mehta’s character, as mentioned above the other characters too were given similar importance, over here in The Big Bull, it looked as if Abhishek Bachchan who plays Harshad Mehta or Hemant Shah is the only character where the writer as put his focus on and the rest are not that important for him.
Another thing that has hit The Big Bull badly is that the technicalities of stock markets are not that easy for everyone to understand. Because Scam 1992 had the freedom of space it could first make the watcher understand what exactly BR or the Bank Receipt is or how Harshad Mehta could manipulate the stock market, what is insider trading, and so on and also the Indian banking system. The Big Bull also tells similar things but that sails like a bouncer bowled by a fast bowler on a pacey pitch over a batsman’s head.
The third thing which did a disservice to The Big Bull is that the second string of the actors or the supporting actors are not that known or strong which we saw in The Scam 1992. We had Satish Kaushik as Manu Mundra who somehow managed to convince us that he is here to destroy Harshad Mehta, but with due respect to Surabh Shukla he has not shown that effective as the main foe of Hemant Shah. Maybe Shukla’s character has not been developed well enough.
Who could forget that duo, Tyagi and Ajay Kedia in the Scam 1992? Over here in The Big Bull, there are no such characters. Plus we had an impressive Anant Mahadevan as RBI governor and of course Rajat Kapoor as CBI Joint Director K. Madhavan who just took away the show from everybody else once he entered the 8th episode of Scam 1992. There is no CBI inquiry shown in The Big Bull, and instead of that, there is a scene where IT raids have been conducted at Hemant’s office and that scene too looks dull.
We never knew the names of Shreya Dhanwantary, Anjali Barot, or Hemant Kher who played the roles of Sucheta Dalal, Jyoti Mehta, and Ashwin Mehta respectively before we saw Scam 1992 but now we know them very well. Here Ileana D’Cruze plays the role of ‘Sucheta Dalal’ but again the role is half-backed plus Ileana acts like a stone. The Big Bull has only Abhishek Bachchan to remember and the rest will be forgotten (or already have been forgotten) pretty soon.
Maybe the Scam 1992 was the official series made from Sucheta Dalal’s book and thus its characters had the real names, and thus became more effective and more convincing. The Big Bull tells us the story of Hemant Shah which we forcefully have to think of as Harshad Mehta and that is really a tough job to be honest after we already have watched the web series. This is again a big minus point which The Big Bull carries with it.
After a promising start, with the scene where Abhishek goes to meet union leader Sawant, played by Mahesh Manjarekar, one would start thinking that “no even this movie has that something special which Scam 1992 had for us.” But once that scene is over, the story fizzles out and starts to make us boring because we already know the details. After a certain point where we can believe is the ‘interval point’ the movie never revives and despite having only two and half hours length one would start to wait to get it over as soon as possible.
There is not a single dialogue to remember, there is no song (though there is only one) in The Big Bull, which we could remember in the future. Whereas Scam 1992 had presented a kind of firework when it came to dialogues. Even the title tune of the web series has become a caller tune or mobile tune of many in India.
A personal view is that Abhishek Bachchan looks nearer to Harshad Mehta because of his body language and the weight he had to gain for this movie than Pratik Gandhi. But, when we think about personifying the character of Harshad Mehta, Pratik Gandhi is a notch better than him. On more than two occasions where Abhishek Bachchan laughs like Ravan in the movie unnecessarily, which not only sounds horrible but actually reduces his acting points, that otherwise are very high. But that doesn’t mean he has acted badly or has done overacting in this movie. He is the same Abhishek Bachchan we know who gives his 100% when it comes to acting. We may find shades of Gurubhai in Hemant Shah, but then that’s about it!
Abhishek Bachchan is so unlucky that he has been getting compared throughout his life for various reasons. First, he was compared with his father the legendary Amitabh Bachchan which obviously is a big injustice to him and his talent. And now when he had a chance to prove his acting skills again with a totally different subject and that he is a wonderful actor than many in the current Bollywood with the movie like The Big Bull, he had to be compared with Pratik Gandhi because the latter did the same role just a few months before than him.
To sum up, The Big Bull is Abhishek Bachchan show all the way but then there is no X factor in it which could have made this movie watchable even after enjoying Scam 1992 like anything. The movie takes up an extremely technical subject of the stock market but doesn’t make its audience understand it so that they could enjoy what has been dished out to them. The makers of The Big Bull should thank the prevailing scenario, that they had been forced to release the movie on an OTT platform so that it will get more eyeballs than the footfalls it would have generated had the movie got released in multiplexes.
11th April 2021, Sunday