Thriller Special 26 is a well-paced, smartly-written and brilliantly-performed film with the exception of needless music — a chronic disease in most Indian films.
The plot involves a set of convincing con artists who belong to different age groups and ethnic backgrounds. Posing as Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officers, they barge into the homes of affluent ministers and businessmen to seize all their money, lecture them on patriotism and then disappear with complete protocol much before the real CBI officers find out about the scam. The film is based on a true story of four men who pulled off several robberies in the ’80s in India.
Akshay Kumar plays the lead role as Ajay, who is cool and confident. The other members of the group include an aging bald man, and two other simple men, out of whom one hides the fact that he does laundry the at home. The group successfully fools people for some time, but the game changes when an angry CBI officer Waseem (Manoj Bajpai) gets involved in the case. The movie picks up pace as the real chase begins here.
Special 26 portrays original and smooth action sequences with character appearances in an ’80s setting — a pleasant change for the viewer. Director Neeraj Panday proves once again why fresh minds like him are needed in a growing cinema industry like Bollywood. In recent Indian film productions, it’s hard to see any difference between some mainstream films, which are more “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, in the words of Shakespeare. Film-makers like Panday bring real hope in the industry. His writing/direction debut A Wednesday was more current, aggressive and socially relevant and every word of Naseerudin Shah’s ending monologue is still remembered by fans. Panday’s screenwriting and the mastery in his craft are reflected in the narrative construction of Special 26. It is one of the most thrilling low budget films made in the recent past.
The director has used visuals more than dialogues — a rare approach in Bollywood, so the audience is forced to use its imagination. His direction leaves room for the viewers to connect pieces in their minds and make sense of everything; yet moving fast enough so you don’t spend too much time piecing the puzzle together.
Unfortunately, Akshay Kumar’s love story in the film made no sense at all and seemed like it was a strategy employed to include needless songs. Kajal Aggarwal, who plays Kumar’s love interest by the name of Priya Chavan, is a waste of talent in Special 26. One has to agree that Aggarwal needs to polish her acting skills even though her pretty face and decent screen presence also made Ajay Devgn fall for her in Singham. The other performances are awe-inspiring; including the angry Bajpai, the suave Kumar or the silent Jimmy Shergill — who flawlessly play their roles in the film.
The intensity of the film takes you on a roller coaster ride; full of twists and turns, and fortunately no accidents. The climax might let some down, but the journey up to it is worth the time. Do look for clues in the film that will help understand the plot at the end — you will probably walk out smiling.
Verdict: it’s a must watch! The action sequences keeps you glued to your seats, so don’t go late or take breaks during the movie, or you’ll lose the plot.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2013.
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