As second films post remarkable debuts often do, Neeraj Pandey’s 'Special 26' carries the same burden that Bejoy Nambiar’s 'David' did last week. A lot of us wondered if Pandey would be able to recreate the tension and appeal of 'A Wednesday'. Well, the answer is, yes he does. Although 'Special 26' is a much different subject.
Ajju (Akshay Kumar) is part of a conman team comprising of P K Sharma (Anupam Kher), Iqbal (Rajesh Sharma) and Joginder (Kishore Kadam), who dress up as CBI officials or Income Tax inspectors and loot people’s homes in broad daylight. Their victims are mostly politicians or businessmen with a lot of black wealth who are reluctant to report the crime to the police.
When Ajju is not devising their next victim and looting, he is romancing a neighbour’s daughter (Kajal Agarwal) whose parents have fixed her marriage to someone else. All’s going well till this under-the-table case is brought to an honest CBI cop Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee). Like a dog with a particularly yummy bone, Khan devises how to lay a trap to beat Ajju’s at his own game.
There is no doubt that Neeraj Pandey’s second film is a winner. Pandey and his production crew also stay strictly loyal to the era of the story, India of the 1980s. Only Maruti 800s and Fiats on the roads, no skylines visible anywhere, briefcases, watches, the look is authentic and enhances the sober mood of the film.
The story is fast-paced and thoroughly gripping, so much so that the protagonist’s minor romantic track actually seems like a drag. Much of the film’s success can be credited to an absorbing and audacious plot and its gentle sarcasm and quiet humour.
Another share of the film’s success goes to its fabulous performances. Anupam Kher is such a delight to watch when he is not playing ‘daddy’ roles. Jimmy Sheirgill is always in control. Akshay Kumar surprises with his restraint; his mellow over-confidence is the perfect foil to Manoj Bajpai’s mocking belligerence.
So what is the hitch? Just a small one; the end of the film is a slight letdown, a little far-fetched for our logic. But even then, 'Special 26' is worth a watch.