My Review of SPECIAL 26 (Hindi, 2013)
Neeraj Pandays A WEDNESDAY is a film I have great respect for. Neeraj Panday made a fantastic debut as a director and I was eagerly awaiting his second film SPECIAL 26
SPECIAL 26 originally had a cast shuffle as Panday originally honed in on Ajay Devgan and Abhishek Bachchan to play the role of the “fake” CBI Officer, however Akshay Kumar landed the role in the end.
SPECIAL 26 is inspired by true incidents whereby a group of men posing to be fake CBI agents conducted “income tax” raids all over India targeting businessmen and politicians who had black money hidden away. That is until the real CBI team start closing in on the team hot on their trails….does the “special chabbis” team get caught? While the overall plot may sound similar to Spielbergs CATCH ME IF YOU CAN as well as a number of other films, it’s completely original.
Firstly, it’s fair to say this is unlike anything else Akshay Kumar has done before. This firmly puts him into a prestige film that relies firstly on the story, then the screenplay and then the characters. This isn’t like a ROWDY RATHORE or HOUSEFULL 2. Akshay Kumar fans have been wanting to see him go down this path for a while, and SPECIAL 26 is the perfect opportunity for Akshay who relishes the role with aplomb. His delivery and comic timing both are efficiently used, however it’s in the more subtle and understated scenes that Akshay leaves a mark. This, in my humble opinion, is one of Akshays finest performances ever.
Anupam Kher is a riot as P.K Sharma. His chemistry with Akshay is fantastic, and it’s a pleasure to see Anupam Kher play the part with relish. I found Kher overshadowed in A WEDNESDAY simple because Nasseruddin Shah was phenomenal in his part in comparison, however Kher leaves his own mark here.
Manoj Bajpai is a scene-stealer as Waseem Khan, the real CBI Officer and he makes the part his own like Bajpai would expect. After a series of recent knock-out performances like GANGS OF WASSEYPUR, Bajpai can firmly put SPECIAL 26 as yet another performance which he excels in. The role and character of Waseem Khan plays to Bajpais strengths and Bajpai gets the smaller nuances of the character bang-on. Note the scene where he asks his boss for a promotion or whether he should now start taking bribes, or his simple daily interactions with his wife and kid.
The scene between Akshay Kumar and Manoj Bajpai at the bar is priceless and for cinema crazed fans, will be worth the price of admission alone. Both actors hold their own unlike other films where Bajpai literally towers in this kind of set-up.
Akshay on the other hand shines in the training sequence and his line “asli power dil mein hota hai” is a riot (seems like the censor board has removed the line “zindagi mein b*nchod….” due to swearing which appears to be from the same sequence). There is so much to absorb in that entire sequence alone that ensures the film is worth another watch.
Jimmy Sheirgill (note the extra “i” in the name:)) and Divya Dutta (awesome as ever) shine in their respective small, but very vital roles. One hopes both these actors get more plum roles in the future. on Sheirgill, I’ve forever been saying he is one of most talented actors around today (his small performance in EKLAVYA is just brilliant), but fails to get proper recognition for the most unless he’s in a Tigmanshu Dhulia film (HAASIL, CHARAS, SAHEB BIWI AUR GANGSTER).
Director Neeraj Panday is officially one of the most interesting and promising directors in Hindi cinema today after SPECIAL 26. I suspect the director had to take certain creative and artistic liberties here given the bigger budget and stars, and one wishes the film didn’t have the Kajal Aggarwal angle which hinders the pace and doesn’t add any value to the film at all. A WEDNESDAY worked brilliantly from a pacing perspective because it operated on a single narrative, here one wishes Panday too had stuck to a singular narrative and got rid of the songs as the film doesn’t do the songs any justice and vice versa. A song like MUJHME TU (Akshay singing debut) deserved a lot better.
Panday appears to be a director who’s in love with the details. He recreates the entire 80′s area with fantastic passion and precision which is evident in every frame. Whether it’s the simple posters in the rickshaw of 80′s films, the songs playing in the background, the simple shots of all the locations (Mumbai, Kolkotta, Jaipur, Delhi) or the wardrobe of the entire cast, each frame has been meticulously crafted on screen. The chase sequences are exciting, and the locales make the scenes all the more spectacular. Despite the length being over 2.30 hours, time flies by smoothly.
While other films like 99, BLUFFMASTER, BUNTY AUR BABLI, PLAYERS, DON 2 have touched on the heist theme before, SPECIAL 26 stands out unique from those films. I think as 2013 ends, SPECIAL 26 will still remain one of the most special films of the year. Winner….Must see !
Prashant Harish Hari