Writer & Director: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpai, Anupam Kher, Jimmy Sheirgil, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam, Kajal Aggarwal
Director Neeraj Pandey‘s “A Wednesday“, a film about an ordinary Mumbai citizen who plots to kill terror masterminds, was a breath of fresh air in 2008. It was imaginative, taut and full of twists and turns.
But Pandey’s new film “Special 26?, a heist drama, does not quite hit the bull’s eye — with an insipid love story and a forgettable “item number” playing spoilsport.
It does have a good plot to begin with. Inspired from a real-life jewellery heist in 1987, the film is about a gang of con artists who masquerade as law enforcement officers to rob politicians and businessmen of their “black money” or undeclared wealth.
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’.
As leaders of the gang, Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher play their roles to the hilt. The show stealer is Manoj Bajpayee who plays the CBI officer chasing the impersonators. It’s hard to take your eyes off Bajpayee in his turn as a ruthless investigator with deadpan delivery.
But the highly dispensable romance between Kumar’s character and Priya (Kajal Aggarwal in an ornamental role) defuses the tension and slows the film to an unforgivable pace — a cardinal sin in any heist drama.
“Special 26? is not a bad film. It keeps the audience engaged. Sadly, it could have been much better.