|Country of origin||India|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||44-55 min|
|Production company||Friday Storytellers|
|Picture format||HDTV 1080i|
|Original release||March 17, 2020|
Special OPS is an Indian Hindi-language action espionage thriller web series for Hotstar Specials, created and directed by Neeraj Pandey, with Shivam Nair serving the credits for co-direction. Pandey also produced the series under his Friday Storytellers, a division of his production house, for providing content to the digital medium. It stars Kay Kay Menon as Himmat Singh, a member of Research and Analysis Wing, forms a team of five agents, in order to track down a person, who is the mastermind of the terror attacks which took place in India.
Neeraj Pandey eventually conceptualised the idea of the script in late 2010, with the series eventually scheduled to be aired on Star Plus, which however did not materialise. He later revived the project in August 2019. Shooting of the film took place in India, and some scenes were filmed in Turkey, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan. The cinematography and editing were handled by Sudheer Palsane, Arvind Singh and Praveen Kathikuloth, whereas Advait Nemlekar composed the background score.
Special OPS was released through Hotstar on 17 March 2020. The series received positive response from critics, praising the performances of the cast members. It also received eight nominations at the Filmfare OTT Awards, winning two of them. A second season of the series was officially announced on April 2020.
The series follows Himmat Singh (Menon) of Research and Analysis Wing who draws similar patterns in terrorist attacks and is convinced a single person is behind all the attacks. His task force team of five agents living in various parts of the world aim to catch the mastermind. The story is inspired by several espionage missions undertaken by India in the last two decades.
- Kay Kay Menon as Himmat Singh
- Karan Tacker as Farooq Ali/Amjad Shaikh/Rashid Malik
- Vinay Pathak as Abbas Sheikh
- Vipul Gupta as Bala
- Sajjad Delafrooz as Hafiz Ali/ Ikhlaq Khan
- Muzamil Ibrahim as Avinash
- Saiyami Kher as Juhi Kashyap
- Meher Vij as Ruhani Sayed
- Gautami Kapoor as Saroj Singh
- Rajat Kaul as Ismail Hassan
- Sana Khan as Sonya
- Mir Sarwar as Hamid
- S. M. Zaheer as Noor Baksh
- K. C. Shankar as Wasim Karachiwala
- Parmeet Sethi as Naresh Chadda
- Kali Prasad Mukherjee as Mr. D.K. Bannerjee
- Divya Dutta as Sadia Qureshi
- Sharad Kelkar as Surya Kumar
- Pawan Chopra as Chintan
- Bikramjeet Kanwarpal as G.P. Mathur
- Rajendra Chawla as llliyaas Hassan
- Alok Pandey as Pappu Haramzada
- Pakkhi Gupta as Farah Qureshi
- Tanaya Sachdeva as Aditi Rao, daughter of Indian ambassador in Turkey
- Sohaila Kapur as Sujata Thapar
- Bijendra Gupta as Habib Naik
- Rahul Vora as Zaheer Raza
- Abhiroy Singh as Mansoor
- Anuj Sharma as Chaudhary
- Arvind Wahi as Bakhtiar Khan
- Ajit Shidahe as ISI chief
- Revathi Pillai as Pari Singh
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"Kaagaz Ke Phool"||Shivam Nair||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|In 2001, five terrorists in a house were getting things ready to attack the parliament and all of them die in the process of the attack. In the present day, Himmat Singh (Menon) is attending the R&AW audit meeting, to explain where did he spend 28 crores in the last 11 years on Middle East desk, which are all mentioned to be miscellaneous? He explains that he had planted agents in five countries and those funds were utilized for their needs but he refuses to reveal their identities. Later his superiors ask him about his theory on 2001 Parliament attack in which he was a part of the investigations. Himmat finds the shop name in the dry fruits packets the terrorists were carrying and asks Abbas (Vinay Pathak) to investigate, from which he finds out that the sixth guy who bought the dry fruits was living near a mosque. Himmat and Abbas reach to the place and start searching, they notice smoke coming out of the window as the sixth guy burns all his things and escapes. As they reach the house Himmat finds his Pakistani passport which was half burnt with no details. Farooq (Karan) calls Himmat and informs that he found Ikhlaq Khan in UAE.|
|2||"Guide"||Neeraj Pandey||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|The 26/11 terror attack moves the nation and one link leads to the next, guiding Himmat and team closer to their target.|
|3||"Mughal-E-Azam"||Shivam Nair||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|Shipping business tycoon, Hafiz Ali shows the aftermath of a betrayal. The nineteen-year-old saga begins to set the stage for a mammoth reveal.|
|4||"Hum Kisi Se Kam Nahi"||Neeraj Pandey||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|Four assets and four tasks. Himmat's team is challenged to test their mettle and see if they are ready for the storm coming their way.|
|5||"Chaudvin Ka Chand"||Shivam Nair||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|Farooq's long wait comes to an end and he's face-to-face with Hafiz. Baku is added to the Special Ops map and new players are revealed.|
|6||"Qurbani"||Neeraj Pandey||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|Farooq's just a few feet away from the mastermind behind 2001 Parliament attack and yet again it's a touch and go situation for Himmat.|
|7||"Shatranj Ke Khiladi"||Shivam Nair||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|Hafiz smells a mole and Himmat finds a pawn. Mind games help Farooq to survive another day.|
|8||"Sholay"||Neeraj Pandey||Neeraj Pandey, Deepak Kingrani & Benazir Ali Fida||March 17, 2020|
|The country is under an imminent attack and time is running out. Finally, Himmat comes face to face with his nemesis.|
On 15 January 2019, the streaming platform Hotstar, announced its foray to original content production exclusively for the service, with STAR India, the parent company of Hotstar, tied up with 15 Indian filmmakers for creating the shows for its label called Hotstar Specials. Pandey had started a new division Friday Storytellers, a subsidiary of his production house Friday Filmworks, for digital content providers, in which the series is produced.
The series is developed as an eight-hour story which is inspired by nineteen years worth events of national significance by Pandey along with Deepak Kingrani and Benazir Ali Fida. Shivam Nair was served as the co-director. He initially pitched the idea of the series in 2010, with Star India's head Gaurav Bannerjee, offering to premiere the show on Star Plus, but failed to materialise later. The project was eventually announced with Kay Kay Menon being offered to play the protagonist, on 6 August 2019, and the rest of the cast and crew members were finalised in the same month.
The principal photography of the series was kickstarted in mid-August 2019. Shivam Nair took charge of helming the major portions of the show taking place in India, and Pandey was directing the rest of the sequences. The show has recreated Parliament of India for filming 2001 Indian Parliament attack portions which were dealt for the first time in film history. Apart from India the show is filmed in Turkey, Jordan, United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan. Pandey eventually stated that the shooting of the series in Delhi was more expensive, as the team needed to buld sets and also use visual effects, as the story needs heavy mounting, and hence filmed in international locations.
In a live chat session on Instagram, with Kay Kay Menon, Karan Tacker and Neeraj Pandey on May 2020, the director hinted of the second season of the series, which is yet to be conceptualised. Although an official announcement of the second season was made on April, Pandey hinted that the series will be "bigger than that of the first season". In January 2021, Pandey announced that the works on the second season will be completed, before starting the production of Ajay Devgn's Chanakya.
A promotional video featuring between the scenes footage of filming was released on 23 February 2020. The teaser poster was released on 25 February 2020, followed by the trailer of the series, which was dropped on the same day at a press conference held in Mumbai, attended by the cast and crew. On 1 March 2020, the makers announced that the series will be premiered on Hotstar on 17 March 2020, where the series will be made accessible for viewers who enabled the VIP subscription method, in the streaming platform. On 15 March 2020, the second trailer of the series was released, which confirmed the release on the said date. However, Hotstar eventually released the first episode, earlier ahead of the scheduled date, on 16 March 2020, followed by the other consecutive episodes. The series was premiered in seven Indian languages – Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Malayalam, Marathi and Kannada, along with its Hindi original version on 16 March.
Special OPS received mostly positive response from critics. Rohan Naahar of Hindustan Times stated "Neeraj Pandey and Kay Kay Menon deliver the first Hostar original series almost worth the self-isolation." Sana Farzeen of The Indian Express stated "With some impressive performances and a compelling tale, Special Ops deserves a watch". Saibal Chatterjee of NDTV gave three out of five stars to the show stating "Special Ops, is a sprawling espionage actioner that takes its own sweet time to glide towards two suspenseful climactic build-ups." Archika Khurana of The Times of India, gave three out of five and stated "Special Ops' could have been a winner all together if it was more focussed. Still, this setup of spies is better than some of its counterparts, and is binge worthy too."
Stutee Ghosh of The Quint gave three out of five to the show and stated "Special Ops is uneven in its pace and falters in between but it’s also a proof of Neeraj Pandey’s skill that despite these flaws he has created a series that has enough drama to keep us hooked." Divyanshi Sharma of India Today, gave a mixed review stating "Special Ops has some stellar performances, which was put down by, forced slow-motion scenes, predictable twists, absence of logic and poorly executed story." Nandini Ramanath of Scroll.in opined "Special Ops lands on the better side of Bard of Blood, but doesn’t match the entertainment value of The Family Man. The action is uneven. While the Parliament attack is well executed, the hand-to-hand combat scenes are unmistakably choreographed. The production design too is exiguous."
Avinash Ramachandran of The New Indian Express commented "Despite the supporting cast being underwritten, a few setbacks in the pacing, and the oh-so-convenient twists, the show gets a lot right". Firstpost chief critic Pratishruti Ganguly gave two out of five and stated "Perhaps it would have fared better for Special Ops to do away with the frills and focus on the titular special operation right from the get-go. The latter half of the show is decidedly far better than the first half. The twist in the end is unexpected, to say the least. It could well be a binge-worthy series in the times of self-quarantine."
|2020||Filmfare OTT Awards||Best Drama Series||Special OPS||Nominated|||
|Best Director||Neeraj Pandey and Shivam Nair||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Male||Kay Kay Menon||Nominated|
|Best Background Score||Advait Nemlekar||Nominated|
|Best Original Soundtrack||Advait Nemlekar||Won|
|Best Art Direction||Sandeep Sharad Ravade||Nominated|
|Best Costume Designer||Falguni Thakore||Nominated|
|Best Editor||Praveen Kathikuloth||Won|
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