"The most disappointing part of the show is that even when it is 8 hours long, it still lacks proper characterization...Characterization is like an improper aberration in this plot, it is neither natural nor complete...The lazy writing also reflects in dialogues and humor points of the show but the show still works at places with its compelling manhunt story."
Creator : Neeraj Pandey Cast : Kay Kay Menon, Karan Tacker, Saiyami Kher, Meher Vij, Vinay Pathak, Sana Khan.
Special Ops, a Hotstar special is engaging and good towards the end. However, it is a very long tale of a manhunt with many flaws. There are moments that are briefly compelling. The writing seemed to be lazy and could have been much better.
The series follows Himmat Singh(Kay Kay Menon), head of R&AW who sees similar patterns in terrorist attacks and is determined that a single person is behind all the attacks, be it the 2001 Parliament Attacks or 26/11 Taj attacks. His team of five agents is spread in different parts of the world to catch Ikhlaq Khan, the hidden mastermind behind all the attacks. The manhunt stretches as long as nineteen years and so the show takes forever to come to the actual point and thrill of the plot. This tale is told in parts during an internal audit of the expenses made by Himmat Singh.
The most disappointing part of the show is that even when it is 8 hours long, it still lacks proper characterization. Too much time has been given to cover the story of Farooq (Karan Tacker) and the personal life of Himmat Singh. There are other four agents that don’t get space for their background to be shared. Characterization is like an improper aberration in this plot, it is neither natural nor complete. Neeraj Pandey never gets his hand-dipped in the complex mud of characterization be it Baby or any other film, he touches the background of the characters either to give a taste of humor or their innate bravery but he never chooses to dive in all the characters and their complexities.
I can understand that in two hours, it might be difficult to capture everything but the problem remains the same in eight hours. The episodes are named on famous movies, most of them are easy to catch as they match with the central theme of a particular episode like the episode "Guide" gives us a guide to the life of Farooq and how he became an agent but some episode names are very abstruse to link as they are based on a single event of the episode.
The show also depicts a similar theme like The Family Man, Himmat Singh as a father struggles to connect with his daughter. He hacks her phone to know about her life and her whereabouts. It also lies in the good side of Bard of Blood in depicting the terrorism. Farooq’s life seems to be inspired by the Netflix Original The Spy. The drone/aerial shots are the specialty of the show. There are particular moments like a sniper shot to be taken by one of the agents that look really well crafted with the drone camera angles. At certain places, the slow down of the frame rate whenever something unexpected is going to happen makes the element of surprise look less surprising. This old-fashioned shot selection is so overused that after initial episodes, you will feel frustrated by these shot selection.
The lazy writing also reflects in dialogues and humor points of the show. The entire series still works at places. The fictional tale build around 2001 Parliament attacks or 26/11 Taj attacks is very compelling and the political take, the last nail-biting sequences are actually excellent and built interestingly. The thrill, the clever-action sequences are rightly placed to keep you engaged even when the show deviates from its main plot point. The performance of Kay Kay Menon is quite brilliant, he is calm where he needs to be and aggressive as well according to the situation. Karan Tacker as Farooq did a pretty decent job. Other agents played their roles in a good way. As I mentioned before they were not given enough space to flourish or prove a point by through their performances
Overall, Special Ops is built with plenty of flaws but still is an engaging show and might be the first Hotstar special which is actually somehow good and hasn’t copied its central theme from an American/British show.
FINAL VERDICT - 3 / 5.
Can give it a try. Finally, a small win for Hotstar.