From lies, to heists to great cunning, twisted plots, Special 26 truly captures the real essence of 1987’s true story. With clever disguises from four slick characters that manage to pull off such scams is incredibly shown in this two and a half hour film. Director Neerj Pandey successfully captures this true story wrapped up with serious action, drama and suspense in which manages to perpetuate the right message across. With his previous thriller ‘A Wednesday’, after severn years Pandey evidently shows his comeback spirit and knowledge through Special 26 or should I say Special Chabbis.
Inspired by a true story, set in the 80s where con men allegedly undertook illegal heists throughout several cities in India. With assistance from extra 26 fake CBI officers whom raided a wealthy, gold jewellery store in Mumbai, thus receiving lacks of black money. And as we speak, they have still not got caught.
The film follows a similar story, though begins with four con men; Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher and two other sidekicks, whom altogether smoothly raid a minister’s house pretending to be the CBI. Thereafter raiding rich businessmen whom they disguise as ‘Income tax’ officers. With scams like this, in seconds they are out and freely roam around the city with lacks of money and gold in their pockets. Finally they decide to come to an end. For their 50th raid, (a very big raid) they recruit extra 26 innocent officers to help them fulfill this heist. Effortlessly setting up the process of interviews and exams, they ridiculously get the mass public on their side. An history of continuous scams, the real blood boiling CBI are on the edge of their guts to catch these thieves.
The character development was definitely evident in Special 26. The four con men were perfect for the role. With cold facial expressions, aggressive gestures and gangster-like dialogue, they managed to intimidate the businessmen and crafty ministers. Sharma played by Anupam Kher perfectly demonstrated this pensive persona but also perfectly portrayed his weak side when caught. The two sidekick officers; Divya Dutta and Jimmy Shergill subtly fooled the audience by wrapping themselves up into this bundle of scam, leaving us questioning their character towards the end. Newly heroine, Kajal Agarwal calmly yet sweetly performed this genuine love bird whom fell for Ajay. Even though she didn’t have much screen time, her warm ambience was evident when on shown. Though I have to admit, Akshay Kumar’s acting through Ajay’s role is what kept this intense journey going. His stoic persona and leadership of the group was clearly grasped, where his actions and dialogue was unforgettable. The way in which he bravely fulfilled such terrible heists was a challenging role, yet he managed to smoothly complete these scams through bringing tension and intensity.
Real CBI officer Wasim Khan played by Manoj bajpai also denoted this powerful yet forceful stigma within himself. His focus was clear, his mind was sharp and his dignity was thorough in Special 26. His determination to capture these con artists was definitely apparent. By pre-planning and effortlessly causing havoc, Wasim Khan desperately tried to capture these individuals yet undeniably failed.
The cinematography and lack of ‘fancy’ shot types, added to the realism tone of the film. With similar shots of the officers seriously walking towards the camera and several close ups, reinforced the tension and pacing of the film. Having said that, Special Chabbis began quite slow paced, where the story was further stretched out than required. After the interval was when the film properly started. Though, the superb acting did not let this get in the way and luckily saved the film from falling into the dip.
Overall, Special 26 relatively captured a driven and appropriate story with strong character development whom brought the script to life. The set design was also carefully chosen, in which brought the audience back to the 80s without needing to put too much into the frame. What I really liked about the film was that there was no item number song or girl, which definitely made a difference in pushing the plot. On a more negative approach, some of the song scenes seemed unnecessary and forcefully placed in, losing that quench in the thrill. With sparks of light humour, when real officers assisted Sharma and Ajay, definitely loosened up the audience.
We saw intensity like never before and impeccable acting. Get ready for an action packed and a gripping climax from Neeraj Pandey in this years Special Chabbis.
Written by: Meera Darji
My Rating: 8.5/10