CAST: Vikrant Massey,Priyanshu Chatterjee, Anshumaan Pushkar, Medha Shankar
DIRECTOR: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
The remarkable tale revolves around an IPS officer who faced adversity, having failed his class 12 exams, struggled with odd jobs, slept for just three hours each night, and embarked on four attempts to conquer the UPSC exams.
Achieving success in the highly competitive Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exams demands not only academic prowess but also unwavering determination. Manoj Kumar Sharma’s (played by Vikrant Massey) story stands out as extraordinary. Hailing from a village in Chambal, Madhya Pradesh, Manoj experiences failure in his 12th-grade exams due to the vigilance of the new DPS, Dushyant Singh (played by Priyanshu Chatterjee), who prevents cheating during the board exams. Manoj manages to clear the exams the following year but in the third division, and he eventually heads to Delhi to pursue the Civil Services examination. He possesses the drive but lacks the academic skills, to the extent that he is unaware of the existence of UPSC or the IPS career path. The film delves into Manoj’s journey as he juggles menial jobs to sustain himself while pursuing his dream, with the support of his mentor (Anshumaan Pushkar), friends, and girlfriend Shraddha Joshi (Medha Shankar).
Each facet of the film unveils a unique story — from Manoj’s misguided youth when he couldn’t differentiate right from wrong to his relentless struggles and the multiple times he restarts his journey. The audience becomes emotionally invested in Manoj’s quest for success or fear of failure. As the tension escalates during the final leg of the journey, particularly during the interview phase, silent pauses and ambient sounds create a palpable atmosphere that leaves viewers breathless.
The narrative flows seamlessly, drawing inspiration from legends such as APJ Kalam and BR Ambedkar’s call to his followers: ‘Educate, agitate, organize.’ The film subtly touches upon why corrupt politicians may prefer to keep the youth uninformed — to maintain control and dominance.
Vikrant Massey delivers a stellar performance, navigating a demanding role and character arc with finesse. He authentically portrays Manoj’s emotions, whether it’s agitation, helplessness, or determination to change his fate. Priyanshu Chatterjee shines in his brief but impactful role as the DCP, whose honesty is his bravery. His talent as a performer is evident in the scene where he interacts with Manoj as his superior, displaying a blend of respect for a senior and pride in inspiring a young man to choose the right path. Geeta Agrawal Sharma and Harish Khanna deserve special mention for their nuanced performances as Manoj’s parents.
“12th Fail” is a top-notch, must-watch film that leaves a lasting impression and inspires the audience throughout its 147-minute runtime. Kudos to the director for extracting outstanding performances from every character in the movie.