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Special Ops 1:5, Well Earned  Encore

Special Ops 1: 5(Disney + Hotstar, 4 Episodes)

Starring K K Menon,  Aftab Shivdasani  , Vinay Pathak, Adil Khan

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Directed  by Neeraj Pathak, Shivum Nair

Rating: ***

Special Ops 1: 5 Review: Strong stuff, this. The writing is skilful if not completely convincing. The  plot takes us to  a number  of  foreign  countries and the action sequences  in Ukraine   are first-rate.

Hats  off to Neeraj Pandey and his  co-director Shivum Nair for respecting the audiences’  intelligence. This is an intelligent nosedive into the world of  Intelligence. Special Ops 1: 5 neither  underestimates  our  proclivity to  grasp the unspoken, nor  does  it spoonfeed  us  with surplus  information.

What we see is  not what we get. Not quite. There are invisible layers  of deception in the espionage  drama as we  are taken into a  backstory  to find  out what made the  RAW  agent Himmat Singh what he  is.It’s a stroke of  luck for Himmat Singh that he is played by the  ever-reliable  K K Menon. The actor has  not changed  one  bit over the years. He can still play a character  so intensely self-aware  he seems  unaware  of the camera.

But why oh why, the wig? Just because  the story of Special Ops 1: 5 moves back in time?  I think the wig distracts from what is otherwise  a performance and a series that  keep us invested  for  the  entire playing-time of  4 episodes. Also,  why is every  episode named  after a Gulzar film? Except for one line in  Episode 3 where a  character unnecessarily says, “Tumhara kuch saamaan mere paas pada   hai”  the episodes have nothing to do with  Gulzar style or content.

What  they  have  plenty of is, intelligent  performers  playing well-rounded characters.  K K Menon’s Himmat Singh is the plot’s  lynchpin in Special Ops 1: 5  and Aftab Shivdasani  too is very  likeable as Himmat’s  more  restrained partner. Both Menon and  Shivdasani have aged well. Their  collective wisdom stands this spiked spy drama  in good stead.  Their  bonding goes  a long way  in  making their action sequences  look sizes larger, more impressive and believable than what we  normally see.

The  plot is about , ummmm,  honeytraps. You  know ,when  pretty women ensnare  big-shots in  the  government  for  confidential  information? Well, there are  two  honeytrappers in this  series. The  one played  by the  Russian actress Maria Riaboshapka is  drop-dead gorgeous. I’d be willing to  reveal my piggybank’s secret code to her. Poor  Vijay Vikram Singh  , playing the trapped defence personnel ,  is  sufficiently  seduced and  stewed.I totally get it.

Ms  Riaboshapka has a kickass  hand-to-hand action sequence  with  Maninder Singh , played by Aadil Khan, in Episode 3(THE episode  where all the action is) of Special Ops 1: 5  . This is all the bang-for-bucks we need  to  get invested in this season of Special Ops which again has Kali Prasad Mukherjee and Parmeet Sethi as  vaguely annoying personnel carrying on an  investigation into  Himmat Singh’s covert operations.

The excellent Vinay Pathak is  the one  doing all the talking. I had a technical problem with  Pathak’s narrative: he seems  to be  privy to much more information that his character has access to. How does he   know  about the  conversations Himmat had with his  ally Vijay(Shivadasani) and his chief adversary Maninder(Aadil Khan)?

There is  also a shocking twist  to  Himmat’s romantic angle with a journalist Anita Sharma(Shiv Jyoti).  Come to think  of it, nearly everything important  to the plot happens in the  third episode entitled ‘Lekin’ where the characters Achanak  play a Hu-tu-tu in a  Mausam of  exacerbated  tension.In comparison the  fourth episode moves  Aandhi-clockwise , the  midair  collision with the villain ending on a stifling note.

The  other  honeytrapper in the plot  is played by an actress  named Aishwarya  Sushmita—yes,that’s her name.She figures in  a lot of scenes in foreign  countries, sometimes carrying guns, sometimes shopping bags . But always  frowning in bewilderment wondering why she is  where she is, and for what  purpose.

Special Ops 1: 5 is  not  without its flaws. It  sometimes seems to bite more than it can chew, leapfrogging  from ‘sexpionage’ to  personal betrayals.But somehow always landing on  its feet. Yup,this one works.

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