Audacious, fun, riveting and a complete paisa-vasool! That defines the Akshay Kumar-Anupam Kher caper, Special 26 (called Special Chabees). The last time a film had audience rooting for the conmen and clapping at their tricks was in 2001 for the Hollywood ensemble of good-looking people (George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts) in Ocean’s Eleven. Well, the latest from Bollywood, from the maker of A Wednesday! is a story of a super heist that may not have similar super-cool hunks, but the impudence matches, and the grit and the pace is equivalent.
The credit for giving a different edge to this latest caper goes to Neeraj Pandey, the director, story writer and also part producer of the film. This is his second outing in this industry. Pandey’s debut film dealt with Mumbai local train serial blasts and one man’s reaction to it by taking on the police. A Wednesday! with stellar performance by Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher had received lot of accolades and awards for the film including the most coveted National Film Award. Judging by the response of the moviegoers even this film may go the same way.
It is nice to see Akshay Kumar come out from the rut he seemed to have got in 2011-12 of making loud films — Rowdy Rathore, Housefull 2, Joker, Khiladi 786, etc. Some of them may have catapulted him to the Rs100 crore film club, but the quality was sorely missing. Not exactly in the same genre of Priyadarshan’s film Hera Pheri — the Akshay-Paresh-Suneil’s starrer was a superb heist-comedy — but in Special 26 it is really nice to see Kumar enact a super cool head of a pack of conmen. No stunts or actions here. Script, dialogues and camera does the work.
The story is inspired by a jewellery heist way back in 1987 when 26 men posing as CBI (Central Bureau of Investigations) sleuths raided a large jewellery shop in Mumbai and escaped, till today untraced, with lakhs of rupees worth jewellery. It is inconsequential pre-credit information given in the film. Doesn’t really matter if the story is a true life story or fiction, as long as it is told well and entertains. And the best part is that Pandey sticks to the 1987 ambience throughout the film including telephones, cars, attire, etc.
Ajay Singh (Akshay Kumar), P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher), Joginder (Rajesh Sharma) and Iqbal (Kishor Kadam) form the quartet of conmen, who target corrupt politicians and businessmen and raid them garbed as CBI or Income tax officials. Fortunately for the conmen, none of their victims lodge a police complaint as they don’t want their ill gotten treasure to be made public by spoiling their image.
The modus operandi is simple. Ajay aka Ajju, researches and plans the entire heist. Then calls up the other three and informs them about the assignation. If needed, they even hire locals. After executing, they disperse to their respective world, assuming their day-to-day roles. On their 13th raid, with the help of Police Sub-Inspector, Ranveer Singh Rajput (Jimmy Shergill) and his assistant Shantiji (Divya Dutta), they raid the palatial bungalow of a Delhi-based politician. Though there is no official complaint lodged even in this case, Rajput informs his department about the raid and in the process gets suspended.
To avenge his insult, he joins hands with the CBI men to get the quartet apprehended. Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) CBI officer, offers to solve the case for his boss. With the help of Rajpput, Wasim manages to zero in on Anupam Kher and his brood of nine children and eventually comes to know of Ajay’s plans to raid a Mumbai jewellery house.
Ajju after promising his lady love, Priya Chavan (Kajol Aggarwal), a school teacher, that he will rescue her from marrying her father’s choice, flies down to Mumbai, where he is met by the other three and they settle down in a five-star hotel to carry on their life’s last ‘mission’ of conning the jewellery store. This is where Wasim along with Rajput and his colleague confront Sharma in his room and get details of the impending hest. And this is the scene where Kher shows he is a great actor. Close-ups, long shots or whatever camera angle the director gives to this man, he is superb with his expressions. Wish Akshay Kumar would learn a trick or two about acting from this man. It is stardom that carries Akshay but its sheer talent of Kher that makes this film rock. Shergill and Bajpayee are their usual self.