Review: Special 26
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Cast: Akshay Kumar, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Rajesh Gupta, Kishore Kadam, Jimmy Sheirgill, Divya Dutta, Kajal Agarwal
Director: Neeraj Pandey
The Indian Express rating: ***1/2
Say you are one of the ungodly, who steals and pilfers, and believes that ceilings are not meant only for fans, but for a false layer to hide the loot in. Say one fine morning a posse of search warrant-bearing plainclothes cops stride in, refusing to get intimidated by your powerful 'connections', and expertly unearth said loot. What would you do? Nothing, except curse roundly, and refuse to file a complaint.
This is exactly what Neeraj Pandey's extremely official-looking gang does, with verve, and entertains us vastly in the process. This is Pandey's second film, after 'A Wednesday'. Like his debut, this one is also based on real-life events, but 'Special 26' is a better film, coasting on realistic performances and locations, and a rapid pace for the most part.
There's something greatly impudent about smart thieves impersonating a crack CBI team and making off with valuables from the homes of the rich and the corrupt. They do their research and execute the heists with precision, and keep getting away with it, till one day they come up against a smarter officer who smells a rat. A cat-and-mouse game begins, and the film keeps up the momentum, and keeps a nice surprise up its sleeve for the wrap.
Pandey's choice of actors is fine, especially Kishore Kadam and Rajesh Sharma who don't have to belabor ordinariness. They simply are. Kadam plays a henpecked fellow just right, and Sharma is made to leave his home after touching an old lady's feet for her blessings : these are the touches which round off characters. Jimmy Sherigill's walk-on proves he is much better at supporting than having to lead.