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If the movies have taught us anything about being a professional thief, it’s to never openly declare that you’re going to retire after “one last job.” This final job is always more risky and complicated than any previous job, and your odds of getting caught are much higher than normal. Better to take your present pilfered earnings, move to Aruba, and spend the rest of your life on the beach.
Of course, the main characters of Special 26 (also written as Special Chabbis) fail to heed the lesson of countless movie thieves before them and find themselves on the verge of retirement with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) breathing down their necks. They may be foolish, but their exploits make for an entertaining film.
Ajay (Akshay Kumar) leads a group of three other robbers — Sharma (Anupam Kher), Joginder (Rajesh Sharma), and Iqbal (Kishor Kadam) — who pose as government officials to raid the homes of corrupt politicians and businessmen. Their victims are more worried about bad publicity should news of their corruption be made public, so they never report the theft of their ill-gotten gains to the police.
Early in the film, a raid on a minister’s house is inadvertently aided by the local police, fooled into thinking that Ajay and his crew are CBI investigators. Two of the police officers — Ranveer (Jimmy Shergill) and Shanti (Divya Dutta) — are fired for their part in the debacle. In order to clear his name, Ranveer gathers evidence on Ajay’s crew and turns it into the real CBI, where he works with CBI officer Waseem (Manoj Bajpai) to foil Ajay’s “one last job.”
The story, set in 1987, is based on a real-life heist. The film has cool period flavor in everything from the costumes to the musical score. Even the movie’s lone chase scene eschews modern CGI in favor of a low-tech footrace, which is plenty exciting without special effects. The film’s runtime could’ve been shortened a bit, but it’s never boring.
What really makes the movie is uniformly great acting by the whole cast. It’s nice to see Kumar drop the wacky comedy-action routine in favor of a more muted performance. Ajay doesn’t have the depth of some of the other characters, but Kumar plays him as a confident leader.
While one just expects greatness from Anupam Kher, it is still fun to watch him work. He’s terrific as Sharma, the nervous Nellie of the bunch. He projects confidence while posing as an investigator, but shrinks with worry when he’s alone with Ajay. Even the hair at his temples gets in on the act: slick and orderly while on the job, messy and pointing in all directions when he’s at home.
Rajesh Sharma and Kishor Kadam are solid as the other members of the crew, but I wish their characters would’ve been fleshed out. Same for the two female characters in the film, Shanti, and Ajay’s love interest, Priya (Kajal Agarwal). Jimmy Shergill has the most substantial supporting role as Ranveer, and he’s tremendous.
The best performance of the lot is by Manoj Bajpai. As with Kher, this isn’t a surprise, but Bajpai is more interesting to watch than just about any other actor. I would happily watch a film that was nothing but three hours of Manoj Bajpai walking toward the camera with an intense look on his face. There’s a lot of that in Special 26, so I was in heaven.
So good to know you liked it, Kathy 🙂
Here’s my review – http://thecommonmanspeaks.com/2013/02/09/special-26-review/
This is a different version of the review which I wrote for the magazine.
The first time when I had seen the trailer of this movie, its been in on my watch list, the only reason being it was by Neeraj Pandey, the man behind A Wednesday, which for me is one of the best movies in recent times,especially in this genre.
Finally watched this movie today my first movie of this year, the first show of the day and must say I was not dissapointed. It was way above my expectations. Completely agree with Kathy here on her review, The complete movie was entertaining start to end (except the few songs which were thrown just cos there had to be a love story in it, which slowed down the pace of the movie, by the end u forget about it) and the climax was just right, could never have expected such a twist at the end.
Akshay was good and so was the rest of the cast but for me Anupam Kher character was best, the confident CBI officer and the nervous person that he becomes when he isnt with the team. The last scene with Manoj Bajpai too was brilliant. The end did throw a hint that there could be a sequel to it. Had there been a sequel I would have watched it back to back. Excellent Movie. Next movie on my list is Kai Po Che.
“A Wednesday” has been recommended to me a lot over the years, and now I’m really motivated to see it.
I love movies that feature ‘The Walk’, as I call the dramatic walking towards the camera bits. Great Review Kathy.
Haven’t seen this yet, and knowing my trend, it’ll be a while before I do. Glad to know Akshay is mixing it up. Apparently the same director did A WEDNESDAY which I loved. So will definitely check this out.
Shahid, my ideal movie right now would be nothing but alternating shots of Manoj Bajpai and Nawazuddin Siddiqui doing “The Walk,” punctuated with dance numbers in which the curly-haired guy from D’s dance crew in “ABCD” tears open his shirt.
My ideal movie has already been made. It’s called SUCKER PUNCH. 🙂
Lots of Jamie Chung slow-walking toward the camera, I take it. 😉
Too surprised to know you haven’t seen A Wednesday, Kathy. I rate it as one of the best films ever made! Can watch it hundreds of times 🙂
In fact, the name of my blog is inspired from that movie 😀
A Wednesday has been on my “must see” list for a long time, Keyur. Now it’s at the top!
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great review kathy..if u want to watch an all manoj bajpayee film dn u should watch “road”…he was terrific in dat film also starring vivek oberoi
Thanks for the recommendation, Manash!
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