In interaction with Abhishek Bachchan
‘The Big Bull’ is an upcoming Hindi language crime drama film directed by Kookie Gulati, produced by Ajay Devgn, Anand Pandit, Vikrant Sharma and Kumar Mangat Pathak. The storyline of the film is based on the life of Harshad Mehta, a stockbroker, involved in financial crimes over a period 10 years, from 1980 to 1990. Abhishek Bachchan has portrayed the protagonist in the film. In this interview, he talks about what drove him to do the film and his own interest in the financial markets.
What appealed to you to select a film on the subject of the stock market?
To be honest, very rarely is a film chosen based on the backdrop of a film. I believe that a film also has to be chosen on the basis of the story, the emotional quotient and any sort of arc the character may have. It is the first time I am doing a film based on the backdrop of the financial markets of India and I was very excited to do such a film. I am a person who follows the stock market very closely.
Do you think your perspective about the stock market changed while working on this film?
Well, I think I got an in-depth view of the inner workings of the stock market. I don’t think my perspective changed but I acquired detailed education of how the stock market functions. It’s almost like taking like a gamble on the stocks, but the kind of research these people do on a particular stock and the kind of information they collate is amazing and that was an eye-opener for me. Sadly, there is still a notion that it is all guess work though there is a huge amount of skill involved in reading the landscape, reading the market, all of which is so very important.
Were you tempted to invest in any stocks while shooting for the film?
Well, I have had an active portfolio since the last seven years and I maintain the same. The film is based on the stock market from 1980 to 1990 and so most of the stocks we talked about in the film are now not performing or don’t exist; hence there was no question of a stock tip to be taken from the film.
Which asset classes do you normally invest in?
I like to invest in all asset classes – it’s all about reading the current landscape. One thing I believe regarding any financial instrument is that I don’t make an investment if I don’t feel connected with it. I am very fond of technology and so those stocks get my preference, especially start-ups. I think, traditionally, India has been a pretty savings’ driven market. Every first thought of a middle-class family is to protect their savings. Gold is such an investment. The moment we have any disposable income, we tend to invest in gold. For me, investment is more about passion and I invest in things I am more passionate about.
What do you think is the best part of the film and why do you think investors should go and watch it?
Well, in our industry, the investors are the audience. They invest in our film by buying tickets. In this case, they contribute by buying a Disney plus Hotstar subscription and watching the film at their homes with their family in a safe environment. I have seen the film and I am very happy and proud about it. We have made a good, clean family entertainer and it is inspirational to some extent. If you have liked films like ‘Guru’ then you will love ‘The Big Bull’. So, I recommend investors to watch this film to get a glamourised and dramatised view of what a stock investor’s life is like.
Do you find any similarity between the financial market world and the film industry? Is the glamour quotient similar?
No, I deny that there is any similarity between the film industry and the financial markets. The glamour part of the film industry is much higher on the charts as compared to the financial markets. In fact, I have found the financial markets to be a place with simplicity and rootedness to the ground. I mean there are some successful and popular stockbrokers, but I found most of the stockbrokers to be rooted to the ground, very much in touch with reality and very street-smart. I feel the reason for this is that they need to know what is going on in reality to be able to drive through the financial markets. I found this to be very refreshing.
Would you like to again work in a film related to the stock market or a similar subject?
I think now, being better acquainted with the world, I will say yes. There are so many other aspects yet to be shown about the stock markets. While making a film there are a lot more aspects to be considered. There has to be an element of drama and providing justice and therefore you look for a story which has these spices. While making the film we met and interacted with many leading stockbrokers and they all had so many stories regarding their stepping into the stock market. Some managed to create huge wealth, some got destroyed after creating a good amount of money, and some simply struggled on. I would love to work for a similar film again provided it has the right emotional arc to it.
Were there any special moments during the making of the film that you would like to share with our investors/readers?
There is a special scene in the film, which is close to my heart, where Hemant Shah, the character I played, walked into the Exchange after becoming a big & legendary informist, and all the people at Exchange were excited to know where this man would invest and where the market will head to because of his decisions. The way everyone erupted when I made the gestures regarding buying or selling and the energy when the bell rang for the first time gave me goosebumps and I found it to be fantastic. For a layman, who is unaware of this world, it is a vision of awe as people are shouting, pushing, and firing each other. Amidst all the chaos, there was planning of a strategy, and work was getting done. Interaction with all the stockbrokers after packing up the film was one of the most memorable moments of my life.
Some of the people, who played the role of investors, were real-time investors since the inception and evolvement of the Exchange. They expressed that they relived the initial days at Exchange, where transactions used to take place physically, and a legendary investor would come and literally direct the market with gestures. This I think was a stamp of approval for authenticity for Kookie Gulati, my director. This made me realise that the world was not so glamourised before as we show it today and everything started in a very modest fashion.
Do you read our magazine, ‘Dalal Street Investment Journal'?
I prefer buying magazines online & read them digitally nowadays. As a child, I remember, no film magazines were allowed in our house since my parents were actors. The kind of magazines we use to get was obviously India Today, Sunday Magazine, etc and one among them used to be Dalal Street Investment Journal. I remember seeing that on my dad's study table. A lot of my friends are mostly from business families; so, whenever I used to visit them, I spotted it there as Dalal Street magazine is pretty much a staple on every Indian businessman's office table.