HomeReviewsSpecial Ops review: Espionage on steroids

Special Ops review: Espionage on steroids

Hotstar’s Special OPS’ showcases a 19-year man-hunt for the person responsible for vicious terrorist attacks on Indian soil. When the Indian Parliament was attacked in 2001, it was but one in a series of setbacks that the country was yet to face. After 26/11, Mumbai was forced to its knees and India was in shock. The nation screamed for justice and the authorities acted on it.

Story

We are introduced to Himmat Singh (Kay Kay Menon) a senior officer of India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) who is facing an enquiry at work. The reason is relentless and unexplained expenditure of the Government’s Secret Service Fund over the past 10 years.

As he explains his case, the narrative shifts to the 2001 Parliament attacks and how a young Himmat figures out via investigation that an anonymous terrorist, Ikhlaq Khan, is the mastermind behind them.

The story takes us to various countries and Himmat’s overseas secret agents come into the picture. They have been operating under him to track and eliminate Ikhlaq Khan for over a decade after 26/11.

Farooq (Karan Tacker), Ruhani (Meher Vij), Avinash (Muzammil Ibrahim) Juhi (Saiyami Kher) and Bala (Vipul Gupta) are all based in different countries and lead dual lives. As the story unfolds and both the past and present come into sync, Farooq’s investigation in Dubai potentially pays off.

Now it’s up to Himmat as he leads his best against a 19 year-old-enemy while another major threat appears in Delhi which could destroy India-Pakistan relations forever.

Performances

Kay Kay Menon is an absolute treat to watch. Even with a huge ensemble cast, he still manages to steal the show and displays why he’s considered a veteran in this industry. He imbibes Himmat effortlessly and is a legitimate bad-ass in every situation except when it comes to having a conversation with his daughter.

Karan Tacker as Farooq is also seamless. His character gets the most screen-time out of the agents because the story demands it. He’s right in the thick of things in Dubai where potentially the enemy is. Tacker is enjoyable to watch as he plays the sleek, stylish and cunning spy.

Vij, Ibrahim, Kher and Gupta do not have much to do except be ready for action when the time arises. However, they give a great performance with what they have.

Other important characters are played by Vinay Pathak, Divya Dutta, Sajjad Delafrooz, Gautami Kapoor, Rajat Kaul and Sana Khan all of whom have managed to maintain the high quality of this web series.

Positives

Neeraj Pandey’s direction is spotless like always. As an expert in directing espionage and heist action thrillers, he showcases his experience in making this web series engaging and interesting as a whole.

What is great about Special OPS is that it does not lose the plot. There are so many things going on at the same time but it still manages to stay on track. The narrative jumps between timelines and locations very often but it is never confusing.

It also maintains a perfect balance between Himmat’s personal and professional life. His relationship with his wife and even his agents is amazing and he treats them all like family. There is enough shown about his domestic problems that makes one care but not get distracted from the bigger picture.

The story as a whole is full of twists and turns and nearly succeeds in misleading you till the end. If you are a keen watcher then it is possible to predict the turn of events but they are still not that obvious. I personally had a lot of “Oh snap!” moments.

Negatives

Unfortunately, Special OPS is not perfect. The biggest problem I had with it was the length of the episodes and the slow buildup. It has eight, nearly hour long episodes which sometimes feel too stretched. It lacks the pace of an edge of the seat watch.

The dialogues are often repetitive and certain scenes feel too dragged. You have to wait for too long for something major to happen but when everything starts to feel monotonous, Menon still manages keep you hooked. It could also have managed screen time for some characters in a better way.

There is a technical issue throughout the series where certain spoken words are different to the actors’ lip movements. This may be due to some late overdubs which were not possible to re shoot. It isn’t too distracting but tends to throw you off a little.

And finally, even though Special OPS is an interesting watch, using India’s terrorist attack history as a reason to track a villain belonging to an Islamic organisation is an overused tool. It instantly makes you think of Bard of Blood, The Family Man etc which share a lot of aspects with Hostar’s latest special.

Worth it?

It is definitely worth it and will not disappoint. You may not be able to binge it in one go due to its slow pace but eventually Special OPS does pay off with its latter episodes and conclusion.


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