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Special 26: Is this Bollywood's answer to the 'Ocean's 11' franchise?

Special 26' once again proved that if 'stars' get a good script and a thinking director then they can use their latent potential to the optimum. Director Neeraj Pandey took more than four years to come up with his second film but all that wait didn't go in vain. 'Special 26' is definitely among one of the finest heist films the Hindi film industry has produced in the recent times.
The film demonstrates the power of writing and brings back the focus on the importance of insightful characterisation. Normally, a heist film can be measured on the parameters of thrill, shock, motive, characterisation and depth, so let's start decoding 'Special 26'.
The film definitely has high thrill quotient because the story turns into a cat-and-mouse game even before the interval. The game becomes perfectly poised between Ajay Singh (Akshay Kumar) and Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) before half the film finishes, but the drama keeps getting intense. The thing which helps the film is the mood created by Neeraj Pandey. The film opens with an old world look and goes further without attaining any other colour, most of the film displays purple and orang-ish look.

Usually, we see at least one weird character in such films because most of the directors think that placing such characters in the story will bring vibrancy to the film. Don't tell me you haven't seen at least one beggar or a mad person, who appear out of the blue, in almost every Indian heist film. Surprisingly, 'Special 26' has only 'normal' characters and they don't go over-board with their mannerism. Manoj Bajpayee, who has a fantastic screen presence in the film, never gets carried away by the temptation of dominating the scene. Anupam Kher lets Akshay take the center-stage and eventually it works in favour of the film. Akshay Kumar is the surprise package of the film, it's going to be one of his most admired performances.
The last act of 'Special 26' is totally dependent on the shock value of the story and it doesn't fail here. People who are well versed in Hollywood heist films may find some clues before the climax but even they would find it difficult to figure out the magnitude of the planning. We hardly see such elaborated planning in Hindi films because most of our suspense films feature a single mastermind at the helm of affairs, here a big group is at work.
The screenplay writer has carved the space for little but important symbols in the film, the description of the CBI headquarters is an apt example of it where intelligence officers are shown in various disguises.
The film lacks a bit on the 'motive' front but the pace of the story supplements for it. However, the director tries his best to give the film a new dimension towards the end when Waseem Khan gets a telegram from Ajay Singh, revealing more will spoil your fun.
In 'Ocean's 11' we see characters that are out in the field to earn some quick bucks by using their talent which basically manes they consider their respective trait as a form of art. They do high profile robberies without a single moment of remorse and are willing to do the same again if need arises. 'Special 26' introduces us to similar characters who are thrilled with the idea of stripping someone off his cash in a new city. Aren't we tired of seeing the hero's forced heart change in the end!
'Special 26' has a lot of depth as the characters mouth words like 'janaab', 'balak sipahi' and 'akhbar'. Those who are familiar with the modus-operandi and work ethics of police would understand the value of these terms in providing authentication to the set-up. Something similar had happened in 'Ocean's 11' as well where Daniel Ocean assembles people of different dialect under one roof, one of them didn't even speak English.
'Special 26' fulfils the basic parameters and gains more importance when we know that it is based on true incidents. Bobby Singh's cinematography and Neeraj Pandey's craft give it a distinct charm which helps it in becoming a fantastic heist film which is Indian-ised yet international. 'Special 26' is among Bollywood's finest heist films for sure.

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