By Martin D'Souza, Glamsham Editorial
To take a real-life incident and give it a 'reel twist' that is captivating calls for a 'genius streak'. For this delightful twist in the tale itself, Neeraj Pandey the writer deserves a round of applause.
We all know how 26 fake CBI sleuths walked into a well-known jewellery shop one afternoon in March 1987, and walked away with the booty vanishing into thin air as it were, as his team of 'recruits' held fort.
But the manner of the heist we see in SPECIAL 26 is indeed special! It's a jaw-dropping sequence in the end.
Right from the first frame onwards the screenplay yanks you into the goings-on. A female recruit is being interviewed by the conmen. The banter between the two is razor sharp. "Milkar ukhadenge Sir," is her riposte to the question of her enthusiasm to clean the system. For this scene alone, and for the interest he creates in what is to follow, director Neeraj Pandey deserves another round of applause.
From then on, SPECIAL 26 tickles you and even entrances with the manner in which fake raids are conducted and the 'soft targets' with stacks of ill-gotten wealth, easily giving in.
Akshay Kumar (Ajay), Anupam Kher (Sharmaji) are 'CBI Sleuths' who conduct meticulous raids across the country. Rajesh Sharma and Kishore Kadam are two of their accomplice. They all live mundane lives but swing into action when in an officer's garb. Watching the quartet in action conduction raids with such conviction is a delight.
Inspector Ranveer Singh (Jimmy Sheirgill) from Chandigarh is like a man possessed when he realizes he has been conned into a fake raid at a politician's bungalow. He vows to get the four behind bars and seeks the support of CBI officer Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpai).
Reluctant at first, Waseem soon absorbs him in his team realizing that Ranveer is the only person who has seen the four.
On their part, the four go on undeterred because not a single matter has been reported. But their luck runs out when Waseem insists on an Income Tax raid in Calcutta being reported. This unnerves the four and they plan their last big heist before 'retiring'.
Anupam Kher is mind-blowingly brilliant in his act. Every nuance in his body language and dialogue delivery is a lesson. Such brilliance from him has been seen after a long, long time on screen, saddled as he is with roles that do no justice to his talent.
Akshay Kumar as the master-planner, switching gear in between raids is a delight. Straight-faced, he gets his way through the most difficult of situations. Their allies, Rajesh Sharma and Kishore Kadam join in for an acting fest that is sure to give you the thrills.
Manoj Bajpai as the honest CBI sleuth who asks his boss whether he should start taking bribes since he has gotten no increment is in a zone of his own. Watch him in the last scene. It's a cracker of a performance. Jimmy Sheirgill and Divya Dutta both fit in in their diverse acts to make this a special film.
But what pulls SPECIAL 26 back a little is the plot between Akshay Kumar and Kajal Aggarwal. It's an annoying interference. For one, minus this, the film would have been tauter and pacier. Secondly, the pair is mis-matched. You can see a huge gap in age, which no amount of make-up can hide. It's like watching Amitabh Bachchan and Soundarya in the 1999 flick, SOORYAVANSHAM.
There are also a few logical flaws, one of which being how did the hotel in which the conmen conduct a CBI interview not know that these were not the real guys? I guess, a little cinematic liberty for a movie of this brilliance is pardonable.
But still, A WEDNESDAY was a taut thriller from Neeraj and he should have seen through these flaws. I would have easily gone for a 4 star rating if not for this.
Nevertheless, get set for a delightful ride in SPECIAL 26. The music pounding in the background transcends you to the 80s.
Neeraj Pandey has now established himself as a director of repute.
Rating - 3/5