’12th Fail’ depicts the unbelievable journey from a 12th fail to an IPS officer


Sharada Iyer

Written produced and directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, 12th Fail is based on the inspiring real-life journey of Manoj Kumar Sharma from a village in Madhya Pradesh, who after failing his 12th exam in his first attempt, charts his destiny with a fervent determination and a do-or-die passion to become an IPS officer. The film is also adapted from the book of the same name written by Anurag Pathak who is also the co-writer of the film.

The film captures the essence of the emotions and struggles of any average Indian and is bound to touch a chord in every viewer’s heart. The earnestness, simplicity, and honesty with which the film has been crafted makes it the best film of the year, and Vikrant Massey who essays the role of the principal character delivers a mind-blowing performance for which he deserves all the awards this year.

Vikrant Massey plays Manoj Kumar, and hails from a small village where he stays with his brother, sister, parents, and grandmother. At work his father who is a government servant, is subject to harassment by his senior officers for being honest and refusing to toe the line of corruption as demanded by them. He loses his job and now the only hope is Vikrant who is aiming to get the job of a watchman if he clears his 12th Board, and support his family.

However, at school, he has grown up in an atmosphere of corruption and lies and here the teachers every year encourage the students to cheat and somehow pass so that all of them can get employment and take up some menial jobs. But on the first day of their board exam, into the exam centre walks in a new DSP who has been recently transferred to the area and who is honest and forthright and will not tolerate cheating. He catches the principal and all the students are failed that year.

This incident and the subsequent events that follow completely change Vikrant’s thought process and attitude towards life. He is truly impressed by the honesty of the DSP and remarks that he wishes to be like him in life. The DSP advises him to ‘never cheat in life’. From then on starts the remarkable journey of our protagonist who has no idea about the path to be taken to fulfill his dream. He hails from the financially lower-strata of society, has studied in Hindi medium all his life and generally comes across as a misfit who has the audacity to dream big.

The director brilliantly captures his phenomenal struggle and perseverance and the engaging script makes us a part of his journey as he endures unthinkable hardships along the way. There are heart-tugging moments where our eyes are brimming with tears and tender moments which make us root for him when he sees a glimmer of hope. Along the way he meets people who play an important part in his life and without whom he could not have achieved what he had set out to become.

The best scene of the movie comes right in the end when Vikrant after becoming an IPS officer goes to meet the honest DSP whose one small advice had changed the course of Vikrant’s life. It will be difficult to hold back our tears of joy and pride in that scene.

The film is thought-provoking at several levels. The narrative highlights the wide chasm of difference that exists between the lifestyles of people who grow up in villages holding onto their determination and passion to fulfill their dreams versus those who grow up in cities with perks and luxuries that they take for granted and have no clue about the kind of struggle that can exist in the world for the financially less-fortunate ones.

The film is also an eye-opener regarding the extraordinary tensions and struggles the students undergo to clear what is touted to be the ‘toughest exam’ of the country- the UPSC Civil Services exam. Every year lakhs of students sit for the exam which needs to be to cleared at three levels- the Prelims, the Mains, and the interview. Each student gets four attempts and yet the kind of obstacles they face at every level be it emotional, physical, financial, and mental, during this period is unimaginable.

For those who do not clear in their first attempt, they need to restart the preparation with increased focus, determination, and stamina and go through the grind all over again. This in turn leads us to question the education system itself which puts so much pressure on students!

The film is also a touching tale of friendship, loyalty, love, and self-belief and how these things help us to stay focused and not stray from the path chosen. When life keeps throwing challenges at us, we have only our unwavering focus and fervor to keep us going and that is the important lesson to take home from the film.

The film scores highly on the performance front. Vikrant Massey has always been an incredibly talented actor and here he gets his career-best role which he pulls off with so much sincerity and sheer brilliance that he becomes Manoj Kumar Sharma and has the audience rooting for him at every step. Giving him support is a very talented team of actors- Medha Shankar, Sanjay Bishnoi, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Harish Khanna- who are also very natural in their roles giving the whole setup the authenticity required. Real life UPSC coaching professor Vikas Divyakirti was cast as himself. Kudos to the entire team!

The film released on 27th October sans the usual fanfare and brouhaha surrounding the release of a new film. Director Vidhu Vinod Chopra believes that his honest work and public’s word-of-mouth will convince people to watch the film. In today’s world dominated by corruption and bribery, this real-life saga offers a ray of hope and inspiration for those who wish to traverse the path of honesty and integrity and be the change they wish to see.

A must-watch film!

Here is the YouTube link to an anthem song from the film:






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