Review Hindi

Special Ops 1.5 review: Kay Kay Menon shines in this short but gripping origin story

Release Date: 12 Nov 2021

Cinestaan Rating

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Suyog Zore

The four episodes with an average length of 40 minutes keep the viewer intrigued in spite of some been-there-seen-that scenarios.

Last year Neeraj Pandey and co-director Shivam Nair introduced us to the no-nonsense Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) agent Himmat Singh (Kay Kay Menon) who is on the trail of the missing sixth terrorist from the attack on Parliament in December 2001.

We were introduced to Himmat Singh when he was being questioned by officers Naresh Chadha (Parmeet Sethi) and DK Banerjee (Kali Prasad Mukherjee) for some irregularities in the distribution of funds 

Now, in Special Ops 1.5, Chadha and Banerjee return to their inquisition seats once again, but this time the person sitting opposite them is Delhi police officer and Himmat Singh’s long-time ally Abbas Sheikh (Vinay Pathak). Sheikh has been called to give a character certificate to Himmat Singh, to assess his performance and decide his retirement package.

Sheikh takes us back to 2003 when Himmat Singh wasn’t the Himmat Singh we know today. From honey-trapping of highly placed Indian diplomats and officials to political conspiracies, intelligence leaks, rogue agents, shocking revelations and personal tragedies, writers Benazir Ali Fida, Deepak Kingrani and Pandey himself have included a lot of action in this short season.

The web-series takes us from  India to Sri Lanka, Dhaka and London as Himmat Singh with his friend and fellow agent Vijay (Aftab Shivdasani) try to hunt down the rogue agent Maninder Singh (Aadil Khan).  As the series progresses and more secrets are revealed, one starts to wonder how Abbas, a simple police officer, is privy to such classified and sensitive information. Granted, these operations are a thing of the past now and probably not such a big secret any more, but how does Himmat Singh, after being betrayed by the person he trusted the most, reveal such information to Abbas?

If one can look past this big logical gap, the rest of the series is quite entertaining. The writers have kept things moving at a brisk pace and much of the information about the importance of the leaked data is dumped on the viewer through dialogues without wasting too much time on subplots. Because of the limited runtime of only four episodes, the series also doesn't digress from its main plot — catching the rogue agent Maninder.

Kay Kay Menon as Himmat Singh

But even in this life-and-death game, the writers manage to interject a short love story of Himmat Singh, and this love story also has a twist. Although the title of this season might suggest this is more of a personal story, as you finish a couple of episodes, you realize it is not so. It is just another mission for Himmat Singh which ends up becoming personal because of its consequences.

There are also some unavoidable false notes, such as the underwritten supporting characters. The short duration of the season just does not allow the writers to develop the other characters. Plus there are some been-there-seen-that type of avoidable scenes that could have been handled in a more creative manner, but the directors choose to simply dump the information on the viewer in the simplest way possible.

Unlike the first season, this 'prequel' doesn't have any actual action or hand-to-hand combat. But the writers and directors have more than made up for the lack of action with a brisk screenplay and some nail-biting thrilling sequences. The season also deserves praise in the technical department, especially the cinematography and the de-aging of Menon.

Menon effortlessly carries the two sides of Himmat Singh — the stoic, almost emotionless RAW agent who will do anything for his country and the shy, vulnerable guy who finds joy in simple things. There is never a false note in his performance.

Shivdasani makes a rather extended special appearance but performs with a lot of restraint. It is refreshing to see him in a more serious role.

Pathak also does his job well. Aadil Khan plays the antagonist and doesn't have much to do except give a cocky smile while talking. Also, this time the villain is not actually the leader of some big terrorist gang. He is just a cog in a big syndicate.

Overall, this mini-season works well as a gripping origin story of Himmat Singh despite some obvious drawbacks. It is definitely more interesting than its predecessor.

Special Ops 1.5 is now available on Disney+ Hotstar.


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