Based on the real-life series of robberies in the ’80s, Special Chabbis tells the story of a group of con artists (including Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher) who rob politicians and businessmen while pretending to be CBI/Income Tax officers conducting raids. The group plans one final heist (which also borrows from the Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri robbery), but they are being pursued by (real) CBI officer Wasim Khan (Manoj Bajpai) and Senior Inspector Ranvir Singh (Jimmy Shergill).
We recently saw another con film – Race 2 – hit theatres, which was unfortunately more style than substance. Does Special Chabbis have substance? Read our Pros and Cons list to find out.
(+) It’s smart. That should be the prerequisite of a con film, but unfortunately that’s not usually the case in Bollywood. Special Chabbis hits the mark (no pun intended) in this sense. It’s well-scripted and believable – the heists are smart and well-thought out, and director/writer Neeraj Pandey doesn’t ‘dumb down’ anything for his audience. The best part is that there’s very little added just for the sake of style – there are no physics-defying stunt sequences, no needless gags, and there’s no real effort to make it a ‘slick’ movie. Here the story takes priority over everything else, which is refreshing.
(+) It’s entertaining. Even though the film skips your usual masala elements, it’s not a boring film – dialogue is sharp and witty, the robberies are interesting to watch, and there are enough humorous exchanges to keep your entertained.
(+) Good performances. Akshay Kumar is known for his mindless entertainer films, which is why this role is a complete flip for him, and he carries it off well. Anupam Kher and Manoj Bajpai are fantastic, Jimmy Shergill does a good job with his role, and Kajal Aggarwal is adequate, though she doesn’t have much to do. Divya Dutta is excellent even in her smaller role.
(-) The love story. I really wish the entire subplot between Akshay and Kajal was done away with, because all it did was slow down the narrative. The inclusion of the wedding song was unnecessary, and was the only thing in the film that seemed particularly forced. Thankfully, the film picks up pace during the second half, when we concentrate on the last big heist.
(-) Lack of character development. I’m always heavily vested in characters, which is why the lack of character development didn’t sit right with me. We know very little back story of the characters, and their motives for carrying out the robberies are not apparent (especially since none of them seem to want to live particularly extravagant lives). From the looks of it, they carry out these heists just for fun. Still, though, this doesn’t bug me too much – the characters are entertaining, and the robberies are interesting enough. You’re so busy looking at how they’re pulling of the heists, that you don’t think too much about why they’re doing it.
Definitely worth a watch! It’s one of those rare (special?) films that is both smart and entertaining.