“One of the best heist movies in hindi movie history…don’t miss it for anything!”
Neeraj Pandey is back after his successful debut A Wednesday  with a crime thriller that is based on true events. Special 26 also referred to as Special Chabbis released worldwide on 8th February 2013.
Set in the late 80’s, the story revolves around events that took place in Mumbai, where a group of con artists cleverly conducted a series of robberies by pretending to be CBI and income tax officers, targeting rich businessmen and corrupt ministers.
Akshay Kumar, Neeraj’s number one choice, plays the smart and cunning fake CBI officer [Ajay Singh] who conducts numerous raids and steals all the black money with his twenty-six men army.
Anupam Kher [P.K. Sharma] is one of three accomplices of Akshay in the film. Actor Manoj Bajpai portrays the meaty role of a real CBI officer [Wasim Khan] and received nothing but praise for his acting.
In an exclusive interview with Cinema Talkies, Akshay said: “This kind of role I’ve never done before… this is an honest role… This is real.”
Telugu star Kajal Aggarwal plays an about-to-be-married school teacher who becomes Akshay’s love interest in the film. Prior to the release of this movie, Kajal was last seen in the Hindi film Singham  opposite Ajay Devgn.
Speaking on Jai Maharashtra News, Kajal described Akshay’s personality saying: “He has a great sense of style, charisma, charm and a fabulous sense of humour.”
Neeraj Pandey, a true master when it comes to twists says: “It was a terrific experience to work with Akshay as he gave his entire commitment for this project.”
As part of pre-production, director Neeraj and his team carried out in-depth research for this film. Neeraj said: “I read a news article somewhere in 2000-01 of unsolved cases in Mumbai and this incident caught my eye for the reason that it was so cerebral in its execution.”
He went onto say that though this was a tougher script to write, the storyline came back very strong.
Since the film was inspired by true events, Manoj took advice from fellow friends at the Central Bureau of Investigation to make sure he portrayed his character as realistically as possible. Talking to Zee News he said: “I have constantly been in contact with my CBI friends about their work and their role. If I have any doubt, I directly contact them to clarify it and correct my role.”
One of the interesting features of this film is how the actors came together for different kinds of roles. Akshay is known for playing mostly action, romantic and comic roles, yet this was a different experience for him.
Special 26 also marks the return of Jimmy Shergil, who was battling ill heath for almost a year. He was extremely excited to be a part of this drama, as this was his first film under Neeraj Pandey. Jimmy plays a Sub Inspector who gets caught between two CBI officers. Speaking about his character Jimmy says: “Ranveer is totally vocal and he wants to seek revenge as he gets totally rattled by this group of con men.”
Even though this film is based on fact, Neeraj did not completely replicate the incidents that took place, instead his take on the film is more an adaptation. Although the film is about crime, money and corruption, he did include a sub-plot love story where Kajal’s fictitious character is introduced.
Anupam Kher received a magnificent response from fans and critics who all praised him for his quick wit and humour. In a radio interview with City 1016, he said: “It’s fantastic and its one of the finest films from India.”
The soundtrack, created by Irshad Kamil, M.M. Kreem, Himesh Reshammiya and Shabbir Ahmed is definitely a hit. One of the more popular songs, ‘Mujh Mein Tu’ is sung by Akshay Kumar himself. Akshay beautifully lends his voice to this track, giving a touch of love through the sounds of the guitar.
Here’s the official trailer of Special 26:
The film overall has a great mixture of songs, including a get up and dance bhangra number called ‘Gore Mukhde Pe Zulfa Di Chaava,’ as well as ‘Tujh Sang Lagee’ which is a soulful song with a qawwali and sufi essence flowing throughout.
Despite it’s slow opening start, Special 26 collected 44.1.cr after seven days. The film has done better than India’s first 3D dance film Any Body Can Dance, which has collected 31.2cr in its first week. The other reason why Special 26 is still doing reasonably well is because the much-hyped movie Murder 3 has failed to deliver at the box office.
The film written by Neeraj Pandey has received primarily positive reviews from critics. Film Trade Analyst Taran Adarsh has given a score of four out of five and said:
“Special Chabbis is an intelligently woven, slick and smart period thriller with its subject matter as its USP. It’s sure to get listed as one of the most gripping heist dramas based on real life occurrences. A film that’s sure to win accolades, acclaim and awards. Also, box-office rewards!”
Numerous fans tweeted the actors with their responses to the film, most calling this “Akshay’s best film.” Another tweet stated: “One of the best heist movies in hindi movie history…don’t miss it for anything!”
With the film receiving a good response, director Neeraj Pandey has not ruled out a sequel. When asked about this, Neeraj said: “I’ve left the ending open. We saw Akshay’s character leave the country with his girl. It would now be interesting to see what happens to him and his colleagues. Let’s see.”
Special 26 is an engrossing film and definitely worth watching at the cinemas, especially if you are a fan of Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpai. Everyone will have to wait and see if the heist continues.