A Wednesday was the first Indian film I believe I watched in India and without English subtitles. I still remember a friend translating for me the parts I did not fully understand and feeling how the plot was getting entangled and detangled in my brain. Such a stimulating film had me looking forward to acclaimed director Neeraj Pandey's Special 26 (aka Special Chabbis) and I am glad the waiting is over.
While the director might have been facing nervousness this week before the release, one has to say that a trip to the cinema this weekend to watch it is pretty well worth it!
Special 26 is a film that takes up the true story of an "army" of conmen and makes us enter their universe and that of the officers who wish to capture them. The con artists are known for having carried out fake raids against the corrupt rich and famous in the 1980s, where they skillfully collected the willing victims' black money by posing as income tax or CBI officers. These activities culminated with a famous scam raid they conducted at the Opera House branch of Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri jewelers.
I have to confess that one of the reasons I was also awaiting this movie is because it finally looked like Akshay Kumar was dropping the triple "Masala / Martial arts / Sexist comedy star" label he had been linked to in recent times and was ready to give a shot to a more conventional but challenging role.
|Photo: Times of India|
I am happy to say I am not disappointed! (Add a hip hip hurrah to this). Even though I am not sure his style fully appeals to me, Akshay Kumar gives one of his most honest and proficient performances in this film without relying purely on his physique or his star status. He delivers his character as a sleek, sharp, subtle and charming thief. How can a character like this one not have layers? A big thumbs up to Akshay for having said a big "YES" to Neeraj Pandey this time.
And a big bravo to Pandey and his team for duly casting his film and paying such attention to detail. Every frame seems to be taken from a time machine ride into the 1980s and each actor brings his/her talent to the script. The same attention to detail may not be 100% foolproof in terms of script in a few instances, such as the unnecessary song/dance/romance sequences (which make Kajal Aggarwal's performance less likely to be appreciated) as well as an audition towards the end of the second half of the film. The soundtrack is not one of my favorites either but I do confess I am not exactly known to be a Himesh Reshammiya fan.
Overall, Special 26 counts with skillful performances and an engaging plot. A special mention goes to a show-stealing Manoj Bajpayee, whose talent pierces the screen when he portrays a police officer's life, tribulations and emotions as I have rarely seen recently in police-inspired films.
One should now have the pleasure of watching Special 26 several times until Neeraj Pandey's next, a comedy script allegedly titled Aman ki Asha starring Ali Zafar, Yami Gautam, Kirron Kher and Anupam Kher.
Read more about Special 26 on Wikipedia or on IMDb
Add Special 26 on Facebook
Follow Special 26 on Twitter
Purchase Special 26 soundtrack on Itunes
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Produced by: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Friday Filmworks, Kumar Mangat, Shital Bhatia
Written by: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kajal Aggarwal, Jimmy Shergill, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Divya Dutta
Music by: M. M. Keeravani, Himesh Reshammiya, Chandan Sharma
Cinematography: Bobby Singh