How much do you expect from the director who gave us a smashing debut in the form of “A Wednesday”?
Well, a LOT. And thankfully he delivers.
Director Neeraj Pandey’s second flick “Special 26” is definitely one of Bollywood’s most intelligently scripted film. The film opens with the CBI raiding the house of a minister. This CBI as we have seen in the trailer consists of four people – Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Kishore Kadam and Rajesh Sharma. The con CBI men are unknowingly helped by the local police officers Jimmy Sheirgill and Dutta as they manage to empty the minister’s black money-filled coffers. A long time after these thugs have finished their RAID does the real CBI Manoj Bajpayee get wind of what is happening.
What follows thereafter is a chase of sorts between the asli and the nakli CBI.
Set in the year 1987, director Neeraj Pandey takes up the real story of Mon singh and the raid he conducted on 19th march 1987 in the showroom of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri in Mumbai. Read the entire incident HERE and HERE
The strongest plus point of the film is its AUTHENTICITY. Neeraj Pandey takes pains to set up the atmosphere of the 1980’s. And thus we have the dial phones, cordless phones, an old less developed Connaught Place and even exclusive footage of the republic day parade featuring Rajiv Gandhi. Currency notes are old ones – the ten and fifty rupee notes which we never see today. The streets are filled with old and outdated cars. AND the best one among those models was the MATADOR. I mean, when was the last time you actually saw that pista green matador model running on the streets in your city? Neeraj Pandey deserves distinction marks for this excellent authenticity.
As for his direction, it is first class. Just like we saw in “A Wednesday”, here too Neeraj keeps the pace of the film fast and racy. The flashback portions are seamlessly merged into the present and there is no scope of confusion. He is very clear about what he wants to portray and hence the audience is kept totally engaged. The film’s pace slackens whenever the love track between Akshay kumar and Kajal Aggrawal appears. But thankfully due to few beautiful melodies courtesy M.M Kreem, we are kept short of getting impatient.
Acting wise, everyone (and I mean every single person cast) is perfect. As the mastermind Ajay, Akshay Kumar is brilliant. Once again he proves that he is better off NOT doing stuff (Read shit) like Rowdy Rathore and Housefull. Be it his deadpan expression at times or the authoritative CBI official, he shines in every scene. I specially loved his wardrobe. All the shirts, tshirts and sweaters he wears are very 1980s. That was well done!
Anupam Kher as the ageing funny con man with an entire cricket team at home is superb.
The other two members of team – Kishore Kadam and Rajesh Sharma are apt. As the henpecked husband, Kishore Kadam has little work but makes his presence felt. And Rajesh Sharma (Tittoo of Luv Shuv tey chicken khurana) is also good.
Jimmy Sheirgill is once again excellent. And so is his co-officer Divya dutta (with her signature dialogue – sir jee, asli kaam toh ye log kar rahe hai. Hum log toh bas…)
Kajal aggrawal is good but wasn’t needed to be frank.
Manoj Bajpayee as usual is the show stealer. Period. Watch the film for his awesome acting as the tough CBI officer, and how he metamorphoses suddenly to a doting father and a reprimanding husband. He is classy.
A few scenes standout – the opening heist carried out by the fake CBI, the chase sequence featuring Manoj Bajpayee, the only scene featuring Akshay and Manoj at the hotel bar, and many more. The MOST hilarious scene was of course when a ramlila clad agent is shown in the CBI headquarters. Not a single word uttered and yet made the entire theatre erupt into laughter – Ultimate stuff.
AND then there is the climax – brilliant. The suspense (I guess it can be called suspense) though not jaw dropping is definitely Neeraj’s most intelligent masterstroke. And he keeps it for the end, obviously. That is when you realize that this is definitely one of the more intelligent films made in a long time. Although I would have preferred a better and a more dramatic sequence for the disclosing of the suspense. Anyway, it still works big time! So no complains.
OVERALL, director Neeraj Pandey passes the acid test of a “One film wonder” and delivers a strong and confident second film. He proves that if you have a strong script and good actors, you need nothing more.
By the time the last twenty minutes of the film were left, I actually wondered that why did Neeraj Pandey choose his title as “Special 26”? But the climax justified it all. One more intelligent stroke from him. Kudos Mr Pandey, we are waiting for more.
ALSO read my music review of "Special 26" HERE