The name Akshay Kumar is synonymous with mindless comedies and some of the most vile garbage from Bollywood. So, Special 26 was not even on the horizon for the choice of my weekend Bollywood fix.
However my curiosity got the better of me after I learnt that Special 26 is made by the same guy who made the wonderful “A Wednesday” (2008).
I decided to give Special 26 a shot and to my surprise, I walked out satisfied and thoroughly entertained.
Neeraj Pandey did not disappoint me or the brisk crowd that assembled in Regal Cinemas for the Friday night show. He proved that “A Wednesday” was no flash in the pan.
Special 26 stars Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpai in lead roles with Jimmy Shergill, Kajal Agarwal and Divya Dutta in support roles.
Neeraj Pandey has written and directed this taut thriller/caper.
It seems that the story is inspired from a real-life robbery of a major jewelry store in Bombay in mid-1980’s by a gang of con-men pretending to be from the CBI.
This movie is set in 1987.
Ajay (Akshay Kumar), P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher) and their two allies are con men. They conduct raids on corrupt businessmen and politicians by pretending to CBI / Income Tax officers and steal whatever booty they find stashed. The victims never report the loss or file a police case for fear of the news of their ill-gotten wealth going public.
One such “raid” on a minister’s house results in the suspension of Sub-Inspector Ranveer Singh (Jimmy Shergill) and Shanti (Divya Dutta). Ranveer decides to make it as his personal mission to catch the gang and teams up with CBI officer Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpai).
They find out that the gang is planning something big for their last “raid” before their retire into obscurity and Wasim Khan decides to catch them during the act.
Go watch the movie to know what happens.
What’s Special about Special 26?
Special 26 has many things working for it.
The basic premise is very believable.
The brazen simplicity of the crime and the relentless focus on the subject matter makes it a riveting watch.
Neeraj Pandey doesn’t lose the plot in unnecessary sub-plots (there is one and I will come to it in a little while) and he does not over-think the crime to the point of making it look over the top.
The narrative spans over three “raids” the third being the big and final one. Each raid is detailed yet engrossing.
The fast screenplay ensures that audience doesn’t get a chance to start nit-picking flaws and loop holes.
The simplicity of the story and the speed of the screenplay is admirably matched with a highly competent performance by the cast.
Anupam Kher doesn’t need any introduction. His seamless transformation from a crook to a loving family man to a scared thief is a lesson in acting for many wannabe stars. Only in India would such talents be wasted in inconsequential father roles.
Manoj Bajpai gives a spirited performance as the honest and earnest CBI officer. Both Bajpai and Anupam Kher get some of the best lines in the movie. Bajpai’s urgency, frustration and anger are very realistic.
Akshay Kumar has never won any acclaims for his acting skills. Here also he doesn’t win any. Neeraj Pandey has hidden Akshay Kumar’s acting limitations by making him less expressive and limiting his dialogues.
A sober and quiet Akshay kumar with no monkeying around almost makes you think that he is a decent actor! What is impressive is that all three actors are given solid roles and good screen time.
The powerful BGM helps keep the audience at the end of the seat with anticipation. However, there is no variety to the music. Maybe they could have used different themes for different robberies.
What’s Not So Special
The weakest link in the movie is the totally unnecessary romance track between Ajay and Priya (Kajal Agarwal). This is the unwanted sub-plot that I was referring above.
Why Neeraj Pandey, who has otherwise made a thrilling film, would want to insert a totally useless track and a few songs is beyond comprehension. The totally editable track along with the completely forgettable songs cause unwanted hiccups in the narration and editing it out would have made the movie even more engrossing.
Kajal Agarwal cannot emote, cannot dance, cannot speak dialogues properly and isn’t the most glamorous actress. She should be set packing to Telugu and Tamil movies where such talentless noobs are in high demand!
The other thing that stood out were some poor graphics. The use of graphics in the background to show Mumbai of 1987 and random scenery was very obvious and quite laughable by even Bollywood standards.
Special 26 is an entertaining movie that you can watch with the whole family.
It has an interesting story, fast narrative, solid performances and some surprise twists and turns.
It is rare for Akshay Kumar to not make an ass of himself.
Go watch it!