Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

February 9, 2013

Greed is good

Filed under: Our FIlms — Rajeev @ 1:14 am

February 08, 2013

Cast: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam, Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Divya Dutta

Director: Neeraj Pandey

That director Neeraj Pandey knows a thing or two about tension is evident from his previous film, A Wednesday, that crackling vigilante thriller from 2008. This time, he builds drama and a sense of urgency in Special Chabbis, about a group of conmen who posed as CBI officers in the eighties and did daring heists across the country through fake raids.

Truth is stranger than fiction, and so Special Chabbis is based on real events. The title itself is derived from a bold, daylight heist that took place in 1987 at a famous jewelry store in Opera House, Mumbai, that shocked the diamond trade. To pull it off, a team of 26 fake CBI officers were recruited by this group to assist them in making off with lakhs worth of jewelry.

In the film, Akshay Kumar is Ajay, the leader of this band of four conmen that includes Sharma, his right-hand man, played by Anupam Kher, and two nondescript cohorts, played by Rajesh Sharma and Kishore Kadam. The group targets rich businessmen and corrupt ministers, and their modus operandi is to pretend to be CBI officers on a raid. By intimidating their victims, they make off with black money hoarded away. Of course, the fear of a bad reputation ensures that these victims never file FIRs against the group. However, the law tends to catch up with the scamsters soon enough, when the real CBI is hot on their heels, led by upright and driven officer Wasim Khan, played by Manoj Bajpai. His plan is to nab Ajay and his gang right when they are executing their one last heist at that jewelry store in Mumbai.

Special Chabbis works on account of its meaty, realistic plot and nicely fleshed out characters. This is solid, assured filmmaking, evident in the meticulous detailing of its 80s production design. The film charms you with its subtle humor, through characters played by Jimmy Shergill and Divya Dutta – two cops conned into helping our fake CBI officers during a sham raid. These sequences in particular liven up the story, as does the portion where the gang interviews unsuspecting job-seekers to form their team for the big heist.

If the film falters occasionally, blame it on the pacing; the first half feels particularly stretched out because of the needless songs that act as speed-bumps in the way of a smooth narrative. Thankfully the reliable performances keep you consistently engaged. Manoj Bajpayee is a worthy adversary for the gang, and he gives the character gravitas, even though his face seems frozen into a scowl. Anupam Kher, playing Sharma, a nervous wreck when he isn’t pretending to be a CBI officer, gets the tone just right. Kajal Agarwal keeps it real as the girl next door who falls for Ajay, and their romance is sweet. But it’s Akshay Kumar who sets the tone for this adventure – he’s wonderfully understated as the leader of this gang who’s constantly thinking on his feet, and it’s fun to see him brazenly conduct the raids with an as-yet-unseen panache.

I’m going with three and a half out of five for director Neeraj Pandey’s Special Chabbis. Infusing humor into tense scenes, he gives us a delicious thriller that you don’t want to miss.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Was waiting for your review.. Thanks a lot, now as I have selected the movie for my weekend I can sleep in peace.. 🙂 Adios!!

    Comment by Rohan — February 9, 2013 @ 1:25 am

  2. TiBounded. By a tight script
    This film is worthwatch

    Comment by pavan — February 9, 2013 @ 7:23 am

  3. Mj lga hi tha ye movie gazab ki hogi ,.,.thanks for ur reviews

    Comment by natish — February 9, 2013 @ 7:42 am

  4. Very fine review. However, I was expecting a 4 star rating for this movie from you.
    Trivia: Rajeev Masand gave 4 stars to Matru ki Bijlee ka Mandola.

    Comment by JMo — February 9, 2013 @ 10:21 am

  5. the movie is good but gets to drag a lot in between….
    i was hoping that you will give 3 just for its slowness

    Comment by kunal — February 9, 2013 @ 11:10 am

  6. 1st time akshya movie got gud rating from rajeev..

    Comment by shakti — February 9, 2013 @ 11:29 am

  7. agree with u. cracker of a movie! had a lot of fun watching it!

    Comment by ria — February 9, 2013 @ 2:15 pm

  8. Rajiv,
    I am serious follower of you reviews and sometimes I decide on watching the movie only after seeing your review. I am serious movie critic. I just returned watching this movie and I feel the movie does not deserve 3.5 stars from you. Of course the movie has shown quite a good 1980 feel but the screenplay lacks momentum.

    Recently I read your review on Vishwaroopam and I completely agree with it. But the stars that you gave for that movie (2.5) is not appropriate and it deserve more when you compare with other movies like ‘special Chabbis’,’David’ and ‘ABCD’.

    I like your reviews and I completely agree your viewpoints. But please take additional care in giving stars.


    Comment by Sundhar — February 9, 2013 @ 2:51 pm

  9. Thank you, Neeraj Pandey.
    Now after Raju Hirani and Imtiaz Ali, You are in my queue(who wants to make Good Movie……. 🙂 ).

    Comment by Mayur — February 9, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

  10. for the first time i am delighted with your reviews 🙂

    Comment by anish — February 9, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

  11. grt movie grt review

    Comment by ram — February 9, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

  12. Thank you for praising akshay kumar for the first time.

    Comment by sagar — February 9, 2013 @ 11:42 pm

  13. Great to see you appreciating akshay or anyone who is good and prejudiced.
    You don’t go by business done by the movie but focus on moviemaking. Great
    To read your reviews. I too wait for reviews on Fridays.

    Comment by Amol I — February 10, 2013 @ 2:47 pm

  14. thanks for the review Rajeev , I hope its as good as Catch me if u can , tc

    Comment by Rajiv — February 10, 2013 @ 3:39 pm

  15. Background score and music was terrible. Gave me head pain.

    Comment by Akash — February 10, 2013 @ 10:36 pm

  16. Everything fine about your review. But you haven’t given Manoj Bajpayee his proper praise for his acting in the movie. Of course he does’nt need it. But that way it would have reached audience and made your review fairer.

    Comment by Pratik — February 11, 2013 @ 1:32 am

  17. Good review 🙂

    Comment by Ankit — February 11, 2013 @ 3:53 pm

  18. yes rajeev
    u r right.
    special 26 is very good movie.
    i like it so much.it have superb thriller.
    i give 4/5 rating.

    Comment by Guru — February 11, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

  19. finally here comes positive review for akshaY KUMAR….from MASAND g

    Comment by KAUSHAL OJHA — February 12, 2013 @ 8:27 am

  20. well i would better give 3 out of 5
    the movie starts of well or picks up pace with powerful performances by anupam kher but that pace seems to be lost sometimes but thankfully it returns very quickly . all the people who have seen wednesday and knew that Special 26 too is directed by neeraj panday can easily predict that a big twist will surely be coming but the suprise of JIMMY shergill’s role switch leaves with a SWEET taste or drops ur jaws ……

    the direction seems to be flawless just that the movie could have been a litlle shorter but i guess every one like masala so that point can also be neglected
    in the end very nice acting by every one and happy to see akshay kumar acting in a worth watching movie after a long time

    Comment by ashim — February 12, 2013 @ 11:07 am

  21. It’s been a long time since Akshay Kumar gave a good performance. He nailed the Bengali accent and language in the Calcutta raid. I felt there was no use for the plot involving Kajal Agarwal and Kumar, and even with the plot there was no use for the songs. However, a very good film after a long time.

    Comment by Sailen Dutta — February 12, 2013 @ 2:18 pm

  22. How can you ever reveal the plot in a review?

    “The film charms you with its subtle humor, through characters played by Jimmy Shergill and Divya Dutta – two cops conned into helping our fake CBI officers during a sham raid.”

    This is a spoiler not a review.

    Comment by bharath — February 13, 2013 @ 2:18 am

  23. Atlast a good movie in bollywood..pepole have brains..u need to use it..The recent movies made in bollywood would make a idiotic person a lunatic..but thanks neeraj pandey, this film is a cracker..though the 1st half is average compared to sensational 2nd half!!

    Comment by aditya — February 13, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

  24. i feel songs made movie slow and were kinda unnecessary ,, the big difference between wednesday and special 26

    Comment by dhrumit — February 14, 2013 @ 9:42 am

  25. Its a 3 for me because the romance bits are a bit boring and the film does tend to deviate towards the “MASALA” route occasionally (the auto-rickshaw scene) and the ending is rather predictable.

    Comment by Arjun Muraly — February 14, 2013 @ 8:54 pm


    Comment by ARJUN BACHANI — February 16, 2013 @ 7:53 am

  27. Special 26 falls into Oceans 11 category where it gives you few moments of brainless thrill. Over all the whole manoj bajpayee episodes lacks logic when u see the entire film. You doubt what’s the need of him ?

    Comment by Deepak — February 17, 2013 @ 5:46 pm

  28. Really nice review. Keep up the great work 🙂 Here is my review of ‘Special Chabbis’ http://aajani.blogspot.ca/2013/02/movie-review-special-26_18.html

    Comment by Amin Ajani — February 19, 2013 @ 7:36 am

  29. this was a total waste. worse than anything else. nowhere near “a Wednesday”. the only thing i liked in film was i saw delhi roads not flooded with traffic. and every time i watched those scenes on screen i got a feeling of fresh air in my lungs. rest everything was bad bad bad.

    Comment by rakesh sharma — February 20, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  30. Great acting by Akshay and Anupam… It makes me want to enroll as a student of Anupam kapoor!

    Comment by Rangaswamy — February 22, 2013 @ 6:23 pm

  31. I dont know how people could hate this.damn the world is filled with idiots.

    Comment by rahul — February 25, 2013 @ 2:08 am

  32. The induced romance was absolutely unnecessary & they could have shown a tad bit of more action I guess. The middle part of the second part literally induces snores….

    Comment by Sheetal Nair — March 2, 2013 @ 6:32 pm

  33. Movie is good…. ???? in the end they gave away their identity and they can be caught easily, this was a plot not to cheat the CBI but the viewers. Nobody wouldn’t have even known their identity if they hadn’t planted the mole in CBI, now CBI knows every ones identity…. Easy to. Catch them ……

    Comment by Sree — March 16, 2013 @ 8:00 pm

  34. Cant figure out how you are rating films these days…..2 for OMG and 3.5 for this…..It has to be the other way around….Special 26 simply relies on the directors debut maestro…..Soo sad to see you influenced the other way….

    Comment by Sooraj Mohan — June 14, 2013 @ 12:57 pm

  35. How can someone hate this movie???has anyone ever imagined the story??well in India we like movies like bodyguard,ready etc. but hate this cult….great review sir,thank you very much:)

    Comment by Vaibhav — July 2, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress