Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kajal Aggarwal, Jimmy Shergill, Manoj Bajpai, Anupam Kher, Divya Dutta Writer: Neeraj Pandey Music: M. M. Keeravani, Himesh Reshammiya, Chandan Sharma Cinematography: Bobby Singh Director: Neeraj Pandey
Four years after he made his debut with the critically-acclaimed A Wednesday, director Neeraj Pandey is back with another thriller Special 26 (Chabbis), starring Akshay Kumar. His first film, A Wednesday won the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for Best First Film of a Director.
Special 26 is based on the daring heist that took place at the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri in Mumbai on March 19, 1987. Akshay Kumar reprises the role of the unknown man, (Mon Singh) who posed as a CBI officer and his cahoot of 26 men who walked away with jewellery worth several lakhs in broad daylight.
Ajay (Akshay Kumar) and his team of three (Anupam Kher, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam) are con-men who confidently pose as CBI or income-tax officers and raid the rich. They primarily target politicians or businessmen so that their loss of black money remains unreported. When Inspector Ranveer Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill) turns pawn of one of Ajay’s operations and is suspended from duty, he decides to trace the con-men. Teaming up with real CBI officer Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpai), they find that Ajay’s next unsuspecting mark in a prominent jewelry store in Mumbai.
Neeraj Pandey manages to get sterling performances from the lead cast. Akshay Kumar out of his usual clowning zone, gives his best effort in recent times. Veteran Anupam Kher steals the show in performance zone. His skillfulness is clearly on display and he plays his character with great sang-froid. Manoj Bajpai gives reliable performance as does Jimmy Shergill while Kajal Agarwal is promising in the small role. But the love element between the lead roles was not that promising. Tiku Talsania, Divya Dutta, Vipin Sharma are supportive with their roles.
Neeraj Panday has shown glimpses of similar treatment of A Wednesday throughout the film. Using Split screens, Shadow shots, hints to coming twists etc. The 80s era is smartly recreated with Lamby scooters, Maruti cars, freed airport terminals, expansive runway views and old currency notes – all justifying the 80’s period.
On the other hand, Neeraj Pandey looked uncomfortable handling the small love story as a sub plot. There was nothing unique about the old buildup and lack of chemistry between the pair.
Neeraj Pandey even left out few loop holes, the Point where Jimmy & Divya bring Commissioner taking an official appointment and later recognizing the fault commissioner suspends both the officers for their negligence. If both the officers were fake why did they take the commissioner for enquiry with official arrangements or is the Minister so foolish that he can’t recognize his state commissioner of police?
Another point, even after installing a microchip to tap the phone of Anupam Kher. CBI never appoints a person to keep an eye on Anupam Kher or try to raid the house after Anupam vanishes from the final act.
Cinematography is neat and effective with high quality wide angle shots and equally effective close up scenes. Relying more on vivid shots to showcase 80’s India makes some scenes look artificial. M. M. Keeravani, Himesh Reshammiya, Chandan Sharma’s Music is good. Mujhe mein tu is the best song of the album. Kaun Mera too is worth a listen. Background score by Sanjay Chowdhary is refreshing. Dialogues are mediocre. Art work must be appreciated for the 80’s touch. Production Values are grand.
Special 26 is an engaging tale for sure, but falls short of becoming a brilliant effort. Worth a Watch….