Who doesn’t love con movies? You get one good guy with a heart of gold take on large government institutions or people with sheer skill and ingenuity (Robin Hood, anyone?). He has a small team of loyalists who follow his command while he comes up with grand schemes. Such formula movies become even more interesting when they are based on real-life events. Of course, a few Bollywood nips and tucks here and there, and you have a blockbuster.
Special 26 is one such story, based in the 1980s, about four con artists led by Ajju (Akshay Kumar) who pull fantastic raids on rich politicians and businessmen by pretending to be officers from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or the Income Tax Office. They plan to pull one last con and this is when the real CBI steps in, an officer named Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) determined to take them down.
There are a few things that hinder Special 26 from being brilliant, the first one being its length. At two hours and twenty minutes, it is far too long to be considered a nail-biting thriller. One could argue that it is the songs but even they are not as interminably long as the scenes where the CBI and Ajju’s team are planning and setting up their ruses. These play out to a soundtrack that is unmistakably reminiscent of the trademark Mission Impossible background score, with wide shots of Kumar, Kher and Bajpayee walking along corridors. The film fails miserably when it comes to pacing and gets monotonous after entire chunks of the film pass by like this
The romance angle adds nothing to the film and becomes just another forgotten sub-plot. Halfway through the film, you forget that Priya, played by the doe-eyed Kajal Agerwal, was even there. Is she or is she not the motivation behind Ajju’s schemes? We never get to know. Besides, she looks far too young to be Kumar’s love interest and, in some scenes, even looks like his daughter.
The film’s amazing ending is what really makes it worth watching, with the last twenty minutes bringing it into full form and pulling the audience in. For that, the first clunky two hours can be forgiven. Overall, Special 26 is a good offering in a genre Bollywood rarely explores and though, it does not shy away from the cheesiness (with dialogues like “Real power is in your heart, remember that.”), it makes up for it towards the end.
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpayee
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
A hit or a miss: A hit!
To read movie reviews for other Bollywood movies, visit this page often.