After having worked as an Associate Director on films like Ishq Vishk and Fida, Kookie Gulati made his directorial debut with the 2010 Vivek Oberoi-starrer Prince. Kookie, who has also produced and created content for television, will now be seen directing Abhishek Bachchan in the much-anticipated movie, The Big Bull. The movie, which is based on the life of the controversial stock broker, Harshad Mehta, also features Ileana D'Cruz, Nikita Dutta, Sohum Shah and Saurabh Shukla in pivotal roles. In an interaction with the Cinema Journal, Kookie talks about the movie, the OTT platforms, and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Your film, 'The Big Bull', is garnering a lot of interest. How do you look at your journey?
It is a mixed bag and to be honest, there have been some great highs and great lows as well. But it has been pretty fulfilling. Persistence is the only thing that holds you through your lows. At the same time, I have made so many things — from producing television shows and ads, to then directing videos and now feature films — it has been a complete experience. Many people despite being in the industry do not get exposed to so many things so I think, in a way I count myself lucky now.
Now that you are associated with The Big Bull in multiple capacities, which sphere of filmmaking do you love the most?
I think I just love being on the sets, in whichever capacity. It excites me the most. Of course, through The Big Bull, I have explored writing a film as well and I have had a major amount of satisfaction through that too. This is the first time I have co-written a film. And that is something which is very new to me and something I have really enjoyed.
Writing gives you confidence, and if you have written it so you can portray it exactly on the celluloid, what do you have to say about that?
For sure, the writing process for me took about two years! I had completely immersed myself into it and it helped me when I became a director. I knew every part of the script because I had written it. So I think it is a great thing to do. If you have the opportunity to write and direct, I think that is really good. However, there are so many writers, who are writing such great content, so I would not want to write every film. There's also a greed as a director to work with other writers as well. …And that is another journey on its own and the challenges are also different in that. So I enjoy the challenges as well.
What is the turning point in The Big Bull? Is it a power-packed action film or something related to shares?
It is related to the stock market. Today, Rakesh JhunJhunwala is known as The Big Bull. So, people in the stock market are known to do the Bull Run. You have the bull and the bears. Bears are when the markets go down and the bull is when the market goes up. Anybody who goes on the top in this game is known as The Big Bull. So that's why the character’s name is The Big Bull because he does something spectacular in the stock market.
Supposedly, you chose Abhishekh Bachchan because he did Guru. Is that true?
That's one of the reasons but that's not the only reason. He has done such amazing characters in films like Yuvaa and Raavan. If you give this man a detailed character and something that he can sink his teeth into, he has always done a phenomenal job! And the kind of arch this character (Hemant Shah) of mine has, you need somebody who has the intensity and somebody who can give you a spectrum. I believe all humans are grey - nobody is black or white. They show their shades at the right time and I think Abhishek was definitely one of my top choices.
Should I call it a full-fledged debut as a director for Kookie Gulati?
I have done a film called 'Prince'. But yes, it is a resurrection for me through this film.
Were you inspired by anybody for this film?
At that time, we were inspired by certain characters that changed the financial fabric of the country so there was a lot to take from a number of people, in fact there's a lot to take from my own father. He came on a cycle from Ahmednagar to Mumbai — from nowhere to everything. Rather than making it big, one should know how to make it. But also realise, how the ego can go to your head. This is something I wanted to tell the youth of our country.
Why opt for OTT release?
It will be running on Disney+ Hotstar, and Ajay Sir took this call in September last year. Considering today's scenario, we know that at least the platform is huge, so we will grab eyeballs. At the end of the day, as a director that is what I expect.
Two years ago, something like the OTT came into our lives, and it is a blessing. We were about to release the film on October 23, 2020 in theatres’, but such a huge event happened which engulfed the entire seven billion on this planet! I don't know for how long someone will hold back their films, so the OTT is indeed a blessing. I mean this is the most sensible decision on the planet.
What next after this?
I have already shot a film with T-Series, which has R Madhavan, Aparshakti Khurrana and Darshan Kumar. That's almost done, but I'll restart that project again in May this year as only 3-4 days of work is left. That's my next film which is a thriller. And apart from that, I am reading scripts right now.
Can you elucidate about your film?
It is an amazing thriller. It is about a terrorist who enters a house! It is a rollercoaster ride. Something very engaging and thrilling.