Film: Special 26
Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Sheirgil, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam, Divya Dutta and Kajal Aggarwal
Not many of us would’ve been willing to bet on Akshay Kumar’s acting prowess. Well, thanks to director Neeraj Pandey of the A Wednesday-fame, Akshay gives a convincing performance as a no-nonsense conman in Special Chabbis, a compelling heist drama based on real events. Coming from the action hero prone to over-the-top comedy and melodrama, this controlled act is definitely a refreshing surprise. Besides that, the other actors in leading roles, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee and Jimmy Sheirgill do more than justice to their roles, making the movie worth your money and time.
The movie is set in the ’80s, just as an aspiring India was waking up from the socialist slumber. Ajay (Akshay), Sharmaji (Anupam Kher), Iqbal (Kishore Kadam) and Joginder (Rajesh Sharma) are a close-knit team of thieves who pose as CBI or Income Tax officers and raid the rich.
Ajay is the master-mind, who picks the victims —corrupt politicians and rich businessmen who have piles of black money to hide and wouldn’t dare cry wolf fearing loss of face in public — and hatches ingenious plots to trap them. During one of their daylight robberies, when they raid a corrupt minister’s house on a laid-back Republic Day, two cops — Ranveer Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill) and Shantiji (Divya Dutta) — are tricked into playing accomplice. When it is known that they were duped, they are suspended from service. Ridiculed for his gullibility, Ranveer decides to nab the con-gang with help from CBI officer Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee).
The director has got most of the details right and therefore, despite the incredulous way the gang gets away with their 49 raids, the movie wears a realistic air. It is quite impressive that all the lead actors got their body language right at all times. The cockiness of Wasim Khan contrasts perfectly with the wobbliness of Sharmaji. In that, we must say Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee and Jimmy Sheirgill score above Akshay Kumar.
The picturisation of the Indian cities of the ’80s when the roads had fewer cars, bureaucrats travelled only in white ambassadors, and Lambrettas and Vespas meant the upwardly mobile, induce a nostalgia. The steady background score compliments the fast pace of the movie. One of the few faltering factors in the movie is the lack-lustre performance of Kajal Aggarwal, Akshay’s lover in the film. She is almost always lame, and looks terribly out of place. Her role could’ve been done away with. The song and dance sequences too could’ve been entirely avoided. Perhaps, that is where Pandey played for the box-office.
A minor faux pas which we couldn’t help laugh about was when Akshay speaks a few lines in Tamil to impress a bunch of youngsters eager for a CBI job. The director seems to have forgotten the period of the film for an instant as he has Akshay mouthing the ‘tsunami’ word along with the standard Tamil dialogues. Until the December 26, 2004 disaster, hardly anyone knew of a natural phenomenon called tsunami.
Those little things apart, Special Chabbis is a well-written, well-made thriller sans histrionics which translates into wholesome entertainment.