Special 26-but not just a numbers’ game! Movie Review

4 / 5.0

Gripping thrillers, where there are more of brains than brawn – be it with the baddies or the good guys, are always more appealing to the higher levels of the mind, than sheer overdone intense action. 

Special 26” proves this point admirably as there is not even a serious fist fight to remember, but there is unending action, nonetheless. From another perspective, the film also proves the old adage that real life incidents can be better and more startling than fiction, based as it is on nuggets of real happenings. Like many of its kind in the past, “Special 26” is a film based on something that happened in the past, and derives its plot from the 1987 daring heist that happened in the broad daylight at one of the most famous jewellery shops in central Mumbai.

In the film version, Akshay Kumar performs the role of Ajay, the main brain behind this four-man group that includes as his veritable No.2, Anupam Kher, portraying the role of Sharma. The group in the film focuses on the usual soft targets like rich businessmen and corrupt ministers, under the fake guise of CBI officers. They short list their victims after doing their due diligence on them, and then decamp with the stashed away black money of their victims. The conmen rely on the logical belief that these victims would never spill the beans for fear of the bad name it may bring about their ill-gotten wealth. In spite of all their daring deeds the law slowly catches up with the real CBI in close pursuit by anticipating their next moves. Manoj Bajpai as Wasim Khan, an upright and efficient CBI officer, is chosen to spoil the next plans of Ajay and his conmen when they are about to carry out the most daring and elaborate plan of swooping down on the Mumbai jewellery store.

It is not until the very end that ultimate outcome of this cat and mouse chase unfolds. Neeraj Pandey, in this his second directorial venture, has shown once again that when it comes to taut thrillers, he is second to none, and that his maiden film “A Wednesday” was no flash in the pan. While he chose terrorism as his theme there, in this movie, through a superbly crafted heist thriller, he has obliquely brought out in the open, corruption in various segments of society.

Credit must also go for some efficient and imaginative editing by Sree Narayan Singh who has been able to make a longish film like this one of close to two and a half hours, appear much shorter than it actually is, and ending just in the nick of time. The other remarkable aspect of the film in the way the characters have been developed and narrated, neither Ajay on the one hand, not Wasim, on the other can either be labelled as the hero or the villain of the film in the conventional description of the terms. 

In fact, they are both the protagonists in their ways, trying to extract from life whatever appeals them. The character building and the sets deserve further credit for the accuracy of the representations, reinventing the scenes and events of Indian metros of the 1980s. 

However, the love story bit about Ajay and his lover Priya seem incongruous in a largely action scenario. For all intelligent cine goers who like to enjoy smart moves more than just ‘dishum dishum’ this is a treasure of a film, never to be missed. Like Neeraj Pandey’s first film this has enough action to keep one engaged till the end. A film one can miss only at one’s own cost.

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