Southern actor Prashanth will be Ajju in the Tamil remake of Special 26.
If one were asked to name one single high point in Neeraj Pandey's Hindi film, it is -- without a shred of doubt -- the remarkable performance of Akshay Kumar. He plays that devilishly illusive (and romantic) Ajju or Ajay Singh, the man who impersonates an officer of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) -- stripping rich businessmen and political bigwigs of their carefully hoarded wealth.
Many would agree that Akshay Kumar's role in Special 26 was just about his career best. The question now is, will Prashanth be as good or even better? The Tamil edition is yet to rope in a director or even the other actors. Producer Thiagarajan has that unenviable task of zeroing in on a helmer as capable as Pandey.
Pandey's earlier A Wednesday was as riveting as Special 26 with a superb piece of work by Naseeruddin Shah (but obviously), though one found Malayalam star Mohanlal's police commissioner -- with his heavily accented Tamil -- a sheer delight to watch in the Tamil remake, Unnaipol Oruvan, with Kamal Hassan in Shah's shoes.
Special 26 was set in the India of the early 1980s -- when there were no mobile phones, no internet and no private players in tele-communication. One had to depend on the state-run telephone company and Doordarshan, and Ajju makes full use of this lacuna to steal his millions. Ministers do not want to report when they are brazenly looted by Ajju and his band of fake CBI. For, the stolen money, in the first place, was after all earned through illegal means.
Ditto businessmen, and in the end when Ajju strips a huge Mumbai jewellery store of its precious metals and stones, Khan and his real officers look absolutely stupid. Caught napping, Khan wonders whether he can get a palmful of water so that he can drown himself!
It is not going to be easy to replicate Special 26 in Tamil or any other language, and it is not going to be a walkover for Prashanth or even Harish Shankar (who will play the protagonist in the Telugu remake). Prashanth's career has not seen any great upward swing, and except for Thiruda Thiruda, he could have been but forgotten.
In Thiruda Thiruda, the actor was lucky to have a helmer like Mani Ratnam, who might have done some average work, but even this has never been below a certain level of competence.
So, as we wait for the Tamil version of Special 26, it may not be out of place to hope that Pandey will soon enlighten us with some news about a sequel.