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No more unrealistic spies—Kay Kay Menon’s Special Ops 1.5 isn’t about secret missions

Special Ops 1.5 moves from espionage to 'sexpionage' and honey-trapping. That's unlike your Bollywood spy movies.

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No overdose of action, no spies jumping down from buildings, and believe me, in Neeraj Pandey’s Special Ops 1.5, the spy actually gets hit by a bullet, and it results in an injury. This thrilling, entertaining, and no-nonsense spy saga continues the espionage story of Special Ops season one in the reverse order. Apart from that, its running time of mere 173 minutes—less than 3 hours—tells you that it is a movie divided into parts, just to be termed as a series. So, it is all set to be finished in one go.

This season rolls out in flashbacks, old stories, and it is all about “Himmat Singh,… Himmat Singh kaise banaa? (How did Himmat Singh turn into what he is today?).” The character—a Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) agent—played by or rather nailed by actor Kay Kay Menon makes you believe that there are two ‘Himmats’, one young—a little less confident, fighting regular politics and bureaucracyand another, older Himmat—mature, confident, and whom we often miss in this season.

Special Ops 1.5 is not just about a secret mission that ends up getting personal, but also about how Saroj—played by Gautami Kapoor—got married to Himmat Singh. For sure, it is not your regular, easy-to-guess, love-at-first-sight Bollywood story. Abbas Sheikh, played by Vinay Pathak, once again an entertaining Delhi police officer and Menon’s sidekick, is out there to add that teaspoon of laughter in this recipe of a phenomenal espionage tale. His impressive acting, which was overshadowed by Menon’s stunning work, is easy to miss.

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Why Special Ops 1.5 is different

While a lot of espionage movies have been in and around the cinema world lately, this spy story stands apart. Yes, there are no cars flying around, but the series moves beyond espionage and corruption to ‘sexpionage’, or what is more commonly known as ‘honey-trapping’. Actor Aishwarya Sushmita is on a spree of honey-trapping Indians and passing classified information to the other side along with a KGB officer from Soviet state security. And not just honest bureaucrats, upright defence personnel, but also one of our R&AW agents is trapped. Special Ops moves from Dubai, Istanbul, Jordan, and Pakistan in the first season to London, Colombo, Moscow, and Kyiv this season.

If you have watched season one, then it takes you back to two agency officers. Where Menon was interrogated in the first season, this time, officers Chadha (Parmeet Sethi) and Banerjee (Kali Prasad Mukherjee) are struggling with Himmat Singh’s story of love, friendship, betrayal, and deaths as narrated by Abbas Sheikh.

Amidst all this, Shivjyoti Rajput—in the shoes of Anita Singh—is playing the ‘perfect’ girlfriend, who is supportive, kind, loving, fully in love with Himmat Singh, and ready to get married. But then events take a turn, not that she gets shot by enemies, but something unexpected unfolds that as an Indian audience we are not habitual of. Himmat is an imperfect spy for our cinema standards because he can be threatened, gets injured, fails, and in fact for the most part of the series, it seems that Maninder Singh (played by Adil Khan), a compromised R&AW agent, is ahead of him.

Neeraj Pandey also takes a dig at the system from time to time, again and again, to add on to the entertainment. A hindering bureaucracy, political parties playing games, interference of security agencies in the elections, and ‘chronology’ to be taken care of—all this in a lighter tone, but it makes a lot of sense and draws connection to the existing system.

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Special Ops 1.5 is special because it’s not unrealistic

It’s a story of a patriotic, elegant spymaster and thus does not come without problems. For instance, there’s a near-dead man, getting up and fighting a dozen people with a single weapon. Or a person being choked to death mid-air—without anybody noticing—in a commercial flight. But then, this is a spy story and you can settle down with some problems in this engrossing entertainer.

Though a little too short, Special Ops 1.5 drops enough hints for a careful watcher. If you watch it with popcorn and full concentration, then you are bound to catch some of Neeraj Pandey’s suspense a few minutes in advance, not to give away anything. It is an engaging, engrossing, stunning, thrilling, a not-so-unrealistic spymaster’s tale that moves beyond mere espionage to ‘sexpionage’, where Pandey gives noticeable hints to catch the suspense in advance, but the question is—can you catch it?

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(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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