Gabriel Khan's Special 26 is a bland thriller
There's a world of difference between movies and books. Gabriel Khan should have known the risk he was running.
1987. No signs of liberalisation on the streets of Delhi. Beautiful Connaught Place. Much before it became Rajiv Chowk. Police chasing some men in a Mahindra Commander. White ambassadors. 4 con-men. And then - the grand plot. A huge jewellery heist in Bombay.
That is the impression the movie leaves. Director Neeraj Pandey, now famous for 'A Wednesday' and 'Special 26', decided that this effort needs to be taken a step further. Upon the insistence of his friend Gabriel Khan a book was published on the movie. A rare endeavour in Bollywood.
It sounded like an interesting idea - a quick, breezy weekend read. Plus, there was an introduction by Anupam Kher.
But that's where the good part ends. There's a world of difference between movies and books. Gabriel Khan should have known the risk he was running. Still, he left two major fault lines in the book.
First, the language and diction. I feel an attempt was made to over simplify. Frankly, it appeared more like a teen who has just learned the F-word and wants to use it everywhere. Expletives do not make a book a bestseller. The words lack the punch a story like this deserves.
Next, the narrative. For a thriller whose plot has been exposed, the only redeeming factor can be a powerful narrative. That unfortunately was missing too. 50 pages down you realise that the author has wasted a brilliant story line - my grouse with a lot of new Indian writers in English, who have fantastic ideas and stories but lack the tools to make them readable.
In this case, the challenge was bigger - to reproduce something that already exists in a different medium. Two out of ten movies based on books are ever so interesting. An effort the other way round deserves a remark, if not more.
Book: Special 26; By: Gabriel Khan; ISBN: 9789350299647; Price: Rs. 199; Extent: 280 pages; Category: Fiction