Neeraj Pandey impressed one-and-all with his gripping direction and storytelling in the 2008 film, 'A Wednesday', which starred Anupam Kher and Nasseruddin Shah. That film worked because of many reasons – a tight gripping screenplay, an impeccable script, flawless performances, crisp editing (100 minutes), no ‘stereotyping’ (in fact, the movie itself was somehow based on ‘anti-stereotyping’), no ‘Bollywood’ gimmick such as item numbers among many more. This one, ‘Special 26’, somehow goes back to the same school of filmmaking, which is more about gumption than gimmick! Based on true incidents, this Akshay Kumar-Anupam Kher-Manoj Bajpayee-Jimmy Sheirgill-Divya Dutt starrer is about the curious case of the fake CBI raids, which were conducted in the 1980s.
‘Special 26’ just stops short of being a gem! There are several flaws in this film. However, do watch it as seldom do Hindi film viewers get an opportunity to witness great stories.
We are introduced to this gang of four ‘fake’ CBI officers – led by Ajay (Akshay Kumar) and P.K Sharma (Anupam Kher). They conduct raids at the houses of corrupt politicians and businessmen and keep all the supposedly ‘seized’ money and jewellery for themselves. There is no particular reason why they do this. One might feel they are trying to get back at the corrupt politicians who are left scott-free after every allegation of corruption. It is also possible that this is their way of acquiring money through illegal practices. However, their acts do end up looking like public service, considering that the so-called thieves are getting into trouble. Yet, it is fun to watch these fake officers do their thing and even more fun is to witness the reactions of those who are being raided.
Now, these fun and games continue until the real CBI comes into play. Led by Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpayee), CBI starts investigating into the matter and the film is set for a duel between the ‘fake’ and the ‘real’!
The plot, screenplay and dialogues are near-perfect. The cast is filled with acting powerhouses and they are even more brilliant than you would expect. Kajal Aggarwal does a decent job too. However, this film could have done away with her character, which is that of Akshay Kumar’s love interest. In fact, ‘Special 26’ could have done away with the entire romantic track, along with the songs. Another complaint with this film would be the beeping out of the cuss words. Completely respect the filmmaker’s decision to do away with the foul language in order to make the film suitable for a universal audience. Yet, the replacements for those abusive words are not top notch. Either beep out the abusive language completely or at least use better replacements. Isn’t our Hindi vocabulary rich enough to accommodate offensive, and universal, words? The third complaint with the film would be the use of chroma effect. Moreover, this effect has been used for relatively simple scenes, such as the long shot of the Kolkata skyline or the South Mumbai sea face. They could have changed the location instead of using the green screen effect, which kind of dilutes the impact of the respective scenes. The lone song that stands out in the soundtrack is ‘Dharpakad’ by the one and only, Bappi Lahiri! This catchy number plays out during the end-credits so stick around for that one! The scenes have been brilliantly written –memorable moments include the raids conducted in Delhi and Kolkata, the banter between Anupam Kher and Akshay Kumar, Akshay’s penultimate scene with Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Sheirgill and Divya Dutta’s chemistry among many more.
The film has a few aberrations. However, it remains what it was meant to be – Special!