Special Ops 1.5 Review: The benchmark Neeraj Pandey has set when it comes to espionage content in Hindi cinema or Hindi OTT shows has hitherto never been attempted and henceforth will be the gold standard to aspire to for all future creators. Sure we’ve had gems of spy movies before like Farz (1967), Ankhen (1968), Charas (1976), Droh Kaal (1994), 16 December (2002), Tiger Zinda Hai (2017) and Raazi (2018). However, Neeraj Pandey has singlehandedly all but made the spy sub-genre among thriller movies his own with A Wednesday (2008), Baby (2015), Naam Shabana (2017) and Special Ops (2020). Now, he’s become the first to create (along with longtime work partner Shivam Nair) a spy universe even before YRF can with Special Ops 1.5: The Himmat Story on Disney+ Hotstar – a prequel to Special Ops. So, is it another jewel in Neeraj Pandey’s gleaming crown of celluloid espionage? You betcha!Also Read - Virat Kohli Earns Aftab Shivdasani's 'Respect' After Tackling Question on Rohit Sharma, Actor Adds #IStandWithShami

What’s it about

Special Ops 1.5 The Himmat Story revolves around, as the title suggests, the origin of its eponymous protagonist, way before he became a legend at R&AW, and much before he spread his team of handpicked sleeper agents across the world to bring down Ikhlaq Khan, the secret sixth terrorist behind the 2001 parliament bombing and the unknown mastermind behind most of India’s terror attacks. Also Read - Special Ops 1.5 Returns With Kay Kay Menon Aka Himmat Singh’s Journey Of Being Greatest Spy, Watch Trailer Of Espionage Thriller

What’s hot

Special Ops 1.5 is almost as sharp, tight, engrossing and exhilarating as Special Ops was. Probably, the best thing about is how deftly the two web series have been tied together. Plus, the subtle touches of humor through the dialogues are so refreshing and serve as a wonderful offset to heavy-duty spy work. And at just four episodes, Neeraj saab again uses his smarts, knowing full well than an origin story about just one character as opposed to an entire spy network, with a plot where the stakes aren’t as high as that of its predecessor, doesn’t merit 8-10 episodes. As for the acting, it’s all straight from the top drawer, with Kay Kay Menon being a tour de force (he knocks it out of the park in his final emotional scene), and Vinay Pathak, Adil Khan, Parmeet Sethi and Kali Prasad Mukherjee all being magnificent in their own way. Also Read - Ray Trailer Out: Anthology of Four Gripping Stories Inspired By Satyajit Ray, Can Mankind Be Equal To God?

However, the surprise package is new find Aishwarya Sushmita, perfectly personifying the seductive, vulnerable and treacherous powers of a honey trap in the espionage world. And technically, the show is as polished as all Friday Filmworks / Friday Storytellers productions are. Neeraj Pandey makes this spy content so well, and it’s all so well researched, be it movies or shows, that sometimes I wonder if he actually ever was a part of a spy organization. And those waiting for a hint of Special Ops 2 also won’t be disappointed courtesy of a cool cameo at the end.

What’s not

The final episode ends on a bit of a rushed and flat note as opposed to the quality that precedes it and especially when compared to the crackerjack finale of the first Special Ops. Aftab Shivdasani also feels like he tries too hard to fit into his role, plus his character is a dead giveaway of a major change that occurs in Special Ops after his wife is introduced the Disney Hotstar series (can’t reveal lest I give out a spoiler). Also, the main conflict around which the mission is based could’ve been explored a tad more In-depth.

BL Verdict

Special Ops 1.5 may seem like a slightly unpolished gem in Neeraj Pandey’s sterling repertoire, but it’s a gem nevertheless, worthy of every minute of your time for its sharp plot, engrossing and exhilarating setup, how everything is deftly linked to the first Special Ops, and Kay Kay Menon’s tour de force performance. I’m going with 3.5 out of 5 stars.