Warning: Although I have tried not to reveal the suspense, there may be spoilers in the review as some bit has had to be revealed to point out the screenplay flaws. Please DO NOT read the review if you do not want to know the story.
Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Wide Frame Pictures and Friday Filmworks Pvt. Ltd.’s Special 26 (UA) is a suspense thriller. Ajay (Akshay Kumar), Sharma (Anupam Kher), Joginder (Rajesh Sharma) and Iqbal (Kishore Kadam) operate as a group. They im personate CBI officers, raid gullible people and vanish with the booty.
In one such raid on a minister, the fake CBI officers make away with the seized cash and jewellery, asking police officer Ranveer Singh (Jimmy Shergill) to await further instructions. Ranveer realises that he has been fooled. He is suspended for not having used his discretion and for having supported frauds in carrying out the raid, even though he says, he had done so under the belief that the raiders were genuine. Ranveer Singh approaches the CBI and seeks its assistance in nabbing the fake CBI team. He promises CBI officer Waseem (Manoj Bajpayee) that he would himself work hard in tracking down the culprits.
Meanwhile, Ajay and his friends continue raiding people and making tons of money. They escape each time because those raided don’t complain to the police since it is their black money which has been confiscated by the fraudsters.
Ranveer Singh manages to track down Sharma, one of the con men, who are now planning to raid a renowned jewellery showroom as their one last operation. Does Sharma spill the beans before CBI officer Waseem? Does Waseem succeed in nabbing Ajay and company? Or does Ajay prove to be smarter than Waseem? Does Sharma inform Ajay about his encounter with Waseem? What is Ranveer Singh’s role in the operation after he has tracked down Sharma?
Neeraj Pandey’s script has intrigue value and keeps the audience engrossed except when, at regular intervals, the pace of the drama slackens due to lengthy scenes. For instance, the entire process of the raid is shown in such great detail that it gets boring for the viewer. Also, the suspense about Ranveer Singh is created for the audience because of the telephonic conversation between Ajay and him at the start. Frankly, Ajay did not need to make the official call to Ranveer Singh – the audience realises this when the ‘created’ suspense is revealed towards the end. This will leave the viewers with a sense of having been cheated because the entire suspense angle turns out to be fake rather than genuine. In other words, the suspense is created by putting only the audience – rather than one or more characters in the film also – on the wrong track.
Neeraj Pandey’s screenplay also does not answer one question which arises in the audience’s mind: why did Ranveer Singh complain to the CBI? While his complaint seems justified when it is made, it seems completely uncalled for once the suspense is revealed. For, the entire drama could’ve progressed far more smoothly without the involvement of the real CBI. Writer Pandey may want the audience to believe that Ranveer Singh benefitted due to the CBI’s intervention but he is unable to explain why he (Ranveer) couldn’t have carried on without getting the CBI into the picture. After all, even if one were to assume that the CBI involvement would have helped Ranveer Singh, there was always the fear that the CBI intervention could also work against his (Ranveer’s) interest. In the absence of the complaint, the CBI would’ve never been involved because of the absence of a formal police complaint by the affected parties.
Having said this, it must be added that both these negative points come up at the fag end of the film, till which time the audience is fairly engrossed in the proceedings. In other words, the two defects in the screenplay – and let it be said, they are glaring defects – don’t disturb the enjoyment of the drama by the audience till almost the film’s end. But once the film is over, they do disturb the viewers.
The romantic track in the drama is weak. The film could’ve also done with a lot more light moments and more and better music to make it more appealing to the masses. For, in the form in which it is, it becomes more class-appealing. Dialogues (by Neeraj Pandey) are good.
Akshay Kumar acts with effortless ease and plays the fake CBI officer with a lot of conviction. Kajal Aggarwal gets very little scope as his beloved, Priya. She does well. Anupam Kher is in good form and performs ably. Jimmy Shergill is effective. Manoj Bajpayee does a fine job and is very earnest as CBI officer Waseem. Rajesh Sharma is efficient. Kishore Kadam is natural. His comedy is enjoyable. As his wife, Aparna Ghoshal stands out in the singular scene she is seen in. Vipin Sharma (as the ACP), Deepraj Rana (as Waseem’s aide, Rahul) and Divya Dutta (as police officer Shanti) lend the required support. Sukhvinder Chahal (as minister Gupta), Abha Parmar (as minister Gupta’s wife), Mukesh Bhatt (as the minister’s PA), Tiku Talsania, Neetu Singh (as Waseem’s wife) and Neeru Bajwa (in a dance number) leave their marks in the few scenes they have. Ujjwal Chopra (in the role of Solanki), Paritosh Sand (as additional director, CBI), Gurpal Singh (as the telephone repair guy), Jarnail Singh (as the telephone recording guy), Prema Sakhardande (as Priya’s grandmother) and the others do as desired.
Neeraj Pandey’s direction is better than his script except that his scenes are very lengthy and go into great and unnecessary details. Yet, it must be said that he manages to keep the intrigue value of the drama alive. Music could’ve been better. ‘Gore mukhde pe’ (composed by Himesh Reshammiya) is a nice number. ‘Kaun mera’ (M.M. Kreem) is melodious but very slow. The other songs (also set to tune by M.M. Kreem) are ordinary. Irshad Kamil’s lyrics are fair. Ganesh Acharya’s choreography is nice. Background music, composed by Surender Sodhi, is loud and heavy. Bobby Singh’s camerawork is lovely. Abbas Ali Moghul’s action scenes are okay. Vaishnavi Reddy’s sets are alright. Editing (Shree Narayan Singh) is not as crisp as needed in a thriller.
On the whole, Special 26 may be a fairly entertaining thriller but it is not without some glaring flaws in its screenplay. At the box-office, it will not prove to be a paying proposition for the distributors, given its high cost to them (all-India: around Rs. 36-37 crore). Its producers, of course, will make a profit due to the high price at which they have sold the all-India rights and also due to revenues from sale of satellite and other rights.