Interesting things have been happening in the Indian entertainment space in the recent years. As far as the espionage genre is concerned, Neeraj Pandey has been making constant efforts to build a universe of sorts with an entire gamut of spy characters. It all started with “Baby” and then Pandey made a very interesting spinoff titled “Naam Shabana”. But somewhere he fell short of realising his dream of building a universe. Following the colossal failure of “Aiyaary,” he headed towards the web with “Special Ops”. The spy thriller series has a vast panoply of characters—bureaucrats, politicians, cops, soldiers, spies, terrorists, brokers, hackers, terrorists, etc.—with many subplots spread across two decades and an ideal setup to build a major universe. The best way to describe it is as a slow-burning thriller in the vein of John le Carré’s novels.
Now, at the centre of “Special Ops” is Himmat Singh (essayed by Kay Kay Menon) of Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), who draws similar patterns in various terrorist attacks carried on the Indian soil, starting with the 2001 Indian Parliament attack, and is convinced that a single person has masterminded all the attacks. He sets up a team of five agents living in various parts of the world in order to nab him. The story is inspired by the actual espionage missions carried by the Indian agents over the last couple of decades.
Kay Kay Menon essays Himmat Singh with a scalpel like precision. Singh may even remind some of le Carré’s iconic George Smiley. Like Smiley, Singh first comes across as innocuously polite, unassuming, and someone you don’t easily feel threatened by. He is clever enough to hide his razor-sharp memory, inner cunning, spy mastery, and his ability to quickly detach himself from his human subjects if need be. In other words, he is the quintessential spymaster who knows how to get the job done ‘Special Ops’, which was released on Disney+ Hotstar back in 2020, days before the lockdown came into effect, turned out to be a huge success and now Pandey is back with a new chapter in the ‘Special Ops’ saga titled ‘Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story’—a major step forward for Pandey in creating a full-fledged Special Ops universe.
As the title suggests, this time everything even more closely revolves around the character of Himmat Singh. Like most origin stories the focus is on addressing the all important question. How did Himmat Singh become the spymaster we know him to be? In order to achieve this, Pandey yet again goes back to the approach he employed in the first installment of Special Ops. Mr. Chadha (essayed by Parmeet Sethi) and Mr. Banerjee (portrayed by Kali Prasad Mukherjee), the members of the auditing committee, who were assigned the task to hold an inquiry against Singh, are back again. This time they have to submit an about Himmat who is about to retire. Their observations and comments will have a direct impact on the retirement benefits that will be granted to Himmat by the government for his services.
Knowing well that Himmat isn’t the easiest person to tackle, they instead invite Abbas Sheikh (played by Vinay Pathak) for the inquiry. Those who have seen Special Ops are aware of the special relationship that Abbas and Himmat share. And it’s though Abbas that we go back to the beginning of Himmat’s story back in 2001, following the Parliament attack. It goes without saying that while ‘Special Ops’ was plot-oriented, ‘Special Ops 1.5’ is more like a personal journey. This time, it is more about personal relationships than larger-than-life events. But the elements are all there. Kay Kay is one of the best actors working in the country and here again, he brings his a-game to the table. As opposed to a wise and mellowed-down Himmat who is on the brink of retirement in Special Ops, in the four-episode long second installment he gives us a Himmat who is still in his 30s. He is youthful, intelligent and impulsive and lacks the judgment and wisdom of the veteran spymaster he would become in the due course of time.
Writer-director Neeraj Pandey basically started a new trend with his debut film ‘A Wednesday,’ starring Naseeruddin Shah and Anupam Kher. Prior to it, Bollywood thrillers mostly had a noirish quality but it all changed thanks to Pandey’s brand of thrillers that varied both in terms of style as well as the content. While ‘A Wednesday’ can be described as a political thriller, his second directorial venture ‘Special 26’ fell in the realm of what can be described as a heist thriller. “Baby,” the third film to be directed by him, was actually an espionage thriller. Although in between, he did make the MSD biopic, it is making thrillers that seem to interest him the most. It’s quite evident from that fact that he chose a film like “Aiyaary,” an espionage thriller set in Lutyens’ Delhi, as his fifth directorial venture. And he seems to have taken his passion for espionage to the next level by setting up the Special Ops universe. And it wouldn’t really be a surprise if more Special Ops sequels and spinoffs are in the offing.
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AKSHAY WRAPS DIU SCHEDULE OF ‘RAM SETU’
NEW DELHI: As Akshay Kumar wrapped the Diu schedule of ‘Ram Setu’, the actor took a moment to cherish the memories of the “incredible” place. Taking to his Instagram handle on Sunday, Akshay posted a picture of himself in his character, posing in front of a scenic landscape. He added the caption, “Taking back amazing memories of Diu as we end a schedule of #RamSetu. Natural beauty, lovely people, don’t miss the famous Pani Kotha fortress-jail at the back. The place is an incredible gem wrapped in history. Diu tujhe dil diya.” Fans flooded the post with likes and comments. “Handsome hunk,” a social media user wrote. “Can’t wait for this film,” another added. Apart from Akshay, ‘Ram Setu’ also stars Jacqueline Fernandez, Satyadev and Nushrratt Bharuccha in key roles. Helmed by Abhishek Sharma and produced by Aruna Bhatia and Vikram Malhotra, the film is slated to hit the silver screens on Diwali next year. It will be an action-adventure drama that will bring to light a story that is deeply rooted in Indian cultural and historical heritage. Following the film’s theatrical release, ‘Ram Setu’ will soon be also available for Amazon Prime members.
DEEPIKA HEADS TO HYDERABAD FOR NAG ASHWIN’S ‘PROJECT K’
Superstar Deepika Padukone has headed to Hyderabad for the shooting of Nag Ashwin’s upcoming film ‘Project K’, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan and Prabhas. Looking every bit like the superstar she is, Deepika sported a cropped lavender blazer-pant set and looked stunning as ever. She teamed up her outfit with silver high heels and a bun.
Tentatively titled ‘Project K’, the movie is a mega canvas, pan India project that’s been in the news ever since its announcement. Deepika joins the team of the multi-lingual on the massive set constructed at Ramoji Filmcity as she forays into the sci-fi genre with ‘Project K’, touted to be one of the most expensive Indian films of all time.
Ahan speaks on being directed by Milan Luthria
Actor Ahan Shetty is currently basking in the success of his debut film ‘Tadap’, which opened on Friday to an overwhelming response. Veteran actor Suniel Shetty’s son, Ahan said he feels “very thankful” that ace filmmaker Milan Luthria, widely known for movies like ‘The Dirty Picture’ and ‘Once Upon a Time in Mumbai’, was the director of his first film as he guided him throughout the whole process.
“He is such an experienced director. But the thing is he doesn’t let that get him. He is a very very chilled-out person on set,” Ahan said in a conversation with ANI.
“I thought he is such a big director. He will be very controlling, very demanding and would have that sort of ego but he didn’t have that at all. He was so open and friendly and even on the sets… throughout the whole process, he let Tara and I take control of our characters. Before certain scenes, he would give us brief .. just like see this is the scene, this is the mood of the scene. He would tell us to go and perform the way you want to perform, if I would want to make few changes I will but just go out there, give your best and do it the way you want to do,” Ahan shared.
DIANA SHOOTING IN ABU DHABI FOR HER UNTITLED-NEXT
MUMBAI: With the teaser of ‘Adbhut’ and the release of her first Malayalam film, Salute, on the horizon, Diana Penty has all our attention right now. After treating us with some scenic, Instagram-worthy content from Shimla recently, the actress has now jetted off to Abu Dhabi for her next project. Taking to her Instagram handle, Diana posted a stunning image of the city of Abu Dhabi. The caption wrote, “Woke up to this beautiful view of Abu Dhabi.” While there hasn’t been any official announcement yet, our sources have revealed that she is shooting her soon-to-be-announced film in Abu Dhabi.
A source revealed, “Diana Penty has a packed calendar with back-to-back shooting slates this year. Currently, the actress is working on an untitled project in which she plays an interesting character and audiences can expect a surprise in a never-seen-before avatar.” From the looks of it, cine lovers and Diana’s fans are in for a treat as she has a number of interesting, diverse projects in the pipeline. The actor makes her Malayalam debut in “Salute” starring alongside Dulquer Salmaan, but what has most people intrigued is the supernatural thriller, “Adbhut”.
TAAPSEE’S ‘SHABAASH MITHU’ TO HIT THEATRES IN FEBRUARY 2022
MUMBAI: Marking legendary India’s Test and ODI skipper Mithali Raj’s birthday, Viacom18 Studios on Friday announced the release date for ‘Shabaash Mithu’, a biopic on the star, featuring Taapsee Pannu in the lead role. The movie is all set to hit the screens worldwide on 4 February 2022. ‘Shabaash Mithu’ is the coming-of-age tale of women’s cricket in India as witnessed by the most successful woman cricketer the country has ever seen. The film chronicles the highs and lows, setbacks and moments of euphoria of Mithali’s life with Taapsee essaying the titular role. Also seen in the film will be the talented actor Vijay Raaz in a key role.
‘Shabaash Mithu’ has been shot across domestic and international locations to aptly bring alive Mithali’s iconic journey and her meteoric rise to the world stage. Directed by Srijit Mukherji with the script written by Priya Aven, the movie is produced by Viacom18 Studios.
ALI FAZAL BAGS NEW HOLLYWOOD FILM ‘KANDAHAR’
MUMBAI: After ‘Death on the Nile’, actor Ali Fazal has bagged a pivotal role in a new Hollywood film titled ‘Kandahar’.
The film is being directed by Ric Roman Waugh, who has previously helmed films including ‘Angel Has Fallen’, and ‘Felon’. Popular Scottish actor Gerard Butler leads the cast as an undercover CIA agent called Tom Harris.
‘Kandahar’ is based on the screenplay developed by Ric Roman Waugh with former military intelligence officer Mitchell LaFortune. The story is based on Mitchell’s experiences at the Defense Intelligence Agency in Afghanistan.
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