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Special Chabbis (2013) – Movie Review

Special 26 - Special Chabbis - movie poster

Written and Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Starring: Akshay Kumar, Kajal Aggarwal, Jimmy Shergill, Manoj Bajpayee, Anupam Kher, Kishor Kadam, Rajesh Sharma, Divya Dutta

Neeraj Pandey, the writer-director of the highly acclaimed thriller A Wednesday is back after five years with his new venture. This time he’s roped in Akshay Kumar (who is on a HIT spree of mindless comedy and action movies back-to-back, with the sole exception of Oh My God) to secure all the hype required to get the movie going at the box office. The trailers were interesting and promised an entertaining heist movie and does it deliver? Yes–it does!

Special Chabbis is supposedly based on true incidents which rocked the nation in the late 80s, wherein con men disguised as CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) officers and income tax sleuths raided the rich ministers and socialites who hoard illegal wealth. Their modus operandi to target only people with illegal wealth is because their victims, once they found out they were conned, always feared filing a police complaint, as they felt it might attract unwanted attention to their illegally amassed fortune. Hence though the con men made use of this weakness and continued conning more and more such people, they were never on the police’s radar due to lack of any cases against them, giving them a free hand.

[ad#longpost]The movie revolves around con man Ajju (Kumar) and his team of three members played by Anupam Kher, Kishor Kadam and Rajesh Sharma. They come under the scrutiny of an upright CBI officer, Wasim (Manoj Bajpayee) when they “raid” a local minister one Republic Day (commemorating the Constitution of India) relieving him of all his illegal wealth–as well as conning the Delhi Police Officers (Jimmy Shergill and Divya Dutta) in the process. Ajju and his neighbour (played by Kajal Aggarwal) are in love, however her parents are keen to get her married off to someone else. With age catching up to them, his partners are keen to go on one big strike before retiring. With the Delhi Police & CBI Officers closing on his heels, Ajju decides to go along with this one big heist to facilitate his team’s retirement and also enabling him to elope with his neighbour. The question of whether his team succeeds in the heist or wind up getting nabbed by the Crime Branch forms the story.

Coming to the positives: everything about the direction is top class. Neeraj gets the best of all his seasoned actors. For once, Anupam Kher gets a meaty role and his performance shoulders the entire movie. He gets the best dialogue in the movie and also provides comic relief whenever the pace of the proceedings dips. His voice modulation when confronted by the CBI Officers is worth mentioning. Akshay Kumar for once plays the second fiddle to Anupam Kher, but kudos to Kumar for selecting scripts with some matter to them rather than going for his usual brainless entertainers. Kishor Kadam and Rajesh Sharma as the other two partners are equally impressive with their comedic timing and make us sit up and take notice.

Manoj Bajpayee is excellent as the honest and upright cop who would put everything on the line to catch the con men. He makes excellent use of his eyes in his performance; and special mention must be given to the scene where he chases down a thug after running through the crowded highway lanes of Delhi. Jimmy Shergill as the Delhi Cop who is conned by Ajju’s team and is seething to get his revenge is again superb–he fits the bill perfectly. Divya Dutta evokes a lot of laughter–with her only line repeated at several different intervals in the movie! Though it deals with con men and a heist more than getting serious it offers plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes, as comedy is the underlying theme of the movie. Most of the jokes are situational but they have excellent repeat value as well. This is where the movie triumphs!

The negatives: the entire Kajal Aggarwal episode and the love story between Ajju and his neighbour simply slows down the proceedings. One can easily feel the nervousness of Neeraj making a commercial movie devoid of any songs and dance–and the entire setup appears forced just so they can get in a couple of songs. Aggarwal stands out as a sore thumb in the movie and everything slows considerably in the first half once she comes into picture. The movie could have been trimmed further from its two hour, twenty-three minute running time to make it even more effective. The background score could have been more riveting. Also, though plenty of effort has gone into recreating the Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata of the 80s, its translation on-screen is very patchy. That all being said, the characters and their antics overshadow most, if not all of the drawbacks. And also, the second half of the film improves on the first: the finale is pretty thrilling with its set of twists and turns!

Overall, a strong start to the month of February with a wonderful comedy-heist movie! Excellent acting from the entire cast, wonderful direction, excellent comedy and though the movie slows down before the interval, it gathers excellent pace and races towards its thrilling finale! A must-watch!