Remember the tamil film Guru Shishyan released in late 80s? In that film, there comes a funny scene in which Rajini and Prabu pose as bogus CBI officers and conduct raid in another police officer’s house. At that period of time, there actually happened ‘real’ bogus raid in a Mumbai jewellery shop by a group of persons posing as CBI officers. It is reported that they were never caught by the police. I don’t know whether that scene in Guru Shishyan was inspired by this event or accidental. But Special 26 is not accidental. It is made entirely based on those events.
Kollywood and Bollywood have a great similarity in getting plagued by masala flicks. There is a two way communication between these woods in remaking films. One need to forget that there is a word called ‘logic’ and should not even think of what the story is while watching those films. But there used to happen rare occurrences of good films then and there. Here comes Special 26 as the above mentioned the occurrence.
Special 26 is special because it deviates from many stereotypic elements of a usual bollywood masala flick. The mass hero turns into a thief and the most wanted villain turns into a honest government official. There is no song-dance (except only one), no songs set in foreign locations, no forced comedies, and no 1:10 fight scenes. Also, an Akshay Kumar film without any item number is very unusual. It’s about well dressed professional conmen who carry out raids by posing themselves as CBI officers. Their targets are the big hands having loads of unaccounted cash and jewels so that the crime could not be reported. They are perfectly professional and vanish without any trace.
The plot-driven approach by Neeraj Pandey (remember A Wednesday) works very well here, accompanied by the well acted cast and fantastic production design. Being a film based on real events, thankfully it didn’t turn out as a docu-drama. The script is well written and executed, making the story to go on in a gripping fashion. The narration spans across different places – Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi, Rajasthan and Chandigarh. There are many funny and comic moments which are not induced and rather subtle.
The production design deserves a special mention here as it brought out the mid-1980s look very exquisitely. Old model dialing phones, type writers, the Rs.100 note, rickshaw-men, taxis, hand-drawn posters, costume design and hairstyles and other aspects are well researched. The 80s lifestyle is reflected realistically in a finespun way – buying imported goods from Bombay, lack of awareness about family planning (Anupam Kher has more than 6 children and one more is on the way), lovers communicating through letters, using money order service to send a sum of Rs. 100, etc. The photography is very proficient with long shots and color tone reflecting the period of the film. The background music is good but it reminded me of Billa and Don theme music at many places in the film.
Special 26 bears a fantastic casting and amazing performances. In fact the performances by the trio – Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpai and Anupam Kher – is the biggest + of the film. Akshay Kumar as Ajay is the mastermind behind the fake raids. What an amazing performance Akshay ji! – as a silent, well-planned and determined in the job. This is the first time I liked him on screen.
Manoj Bajpai who is very famous for notoriety in his works, takes up the role of real CBI officer Waseem. About his acting, he is no different from Akshay – an equally amazing performance. Special 26 will give a special place in the career of Akshay and Manoj and they will be remembered for their respective roles. Anupam Kher as Mr. Sharma j is Ajay’s accomplice. I don’t need to elaborate about his perfection here, as the versatile actor delivers an as usual excellent performance. Overall, the trio delivers A-one performance and adds more charm to the film overall.
Jimmy Shergil has quality acting but unfortunately not given much part, as much of the focus is on Akshay and Manoj Bajpai. Divya Dutta makes presence in a few scenes as lady constable. Rajesh Sharma and Kishore Kadam as Joginder and Iqbal, are the other two accomplices of the team. They have no big part except raid scenes. I feel the romantic subplot between Kajal and Akshay is inappropriate here. Kajal has nothing to do except passing letters to Akshay, and weeping down tears. One difference from other films is that she already knows Akshay is a thief. The romance part gives a sense of boredom and is the only barrier in the gripping script. Either she could’ve given a more important role or ruled out from the film simply. Other than this aspect, everything is fine.
A movie without any conventional entertainment factors doesn’t mean it will fail to entertain the audience. Special 26, as a whole, is a very well entertaining heist thriller – with its well drafted script and charming acting that won't let down the audience.. Enough said. Enjoy the heist..