Post ‘3 Idiots’ producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra as director offers yet another awe inspiring story to the audience. For audience who must be fans of ‘3 idiots’ might find fleeting similarities on a couple of occasions. For instance, ‘3 Idiots’ created the catch phrase ‘Aal Izz Well’, ’12th Fail’ should be credited for ‘Restart’, which might prove to be of great significance for every student at any level, in any stream. There is also a scene inspired by the ‘definition of machine’ scene in ‘3 Idiots’ that works bang on.
A scene in the final reels summarises the crux of the story idea or the theme. When Manoj Kumar Sharma (Vikrant Massey) visits a DSP (Priyanshu Chatterjee), is greeted with a salute; he informs who he is to the pleasant surprise of the DSP who remembers the student who had failed in class 12 but was inspired with the DSP and vowed to become one. The DSP shares his ‘guru mantra’ / didactic message that ‘cheaters never prosper’. The entire sequence might make one’s eyes moist.
After a long time comes a topical film with clap worthy and meaningful dialogues that should help students to never loose heart and keep trying.
Manoj Kumar Sharma (Vikrant Massey) comes from a tiny hamlet / village in Chambal (a region known for bandits). Oppressed by crooked local cops and a mayor who demands bribe for everything, Manoj gets the life savings of his grandmother (Sarita Joshi) to go to Delhi and take the challenging civil service exams that will allow him to become a police officer.
En route the city, Manoj loses all his grandma’s savings when a fellow passenger steals his bag. Later, Manoj meets an aspiring student Pritam Pandey (Anant Vijay Joshi). They both embark on a long, arduous series of failed attempts only to ‘restart’.
Along the journey enters a poised Shraddha (Medha Shankar), a student who gave up being a doctor when she had to treat a young girl who died from abuse, a horror that motivates Shraddha to bring abusers and the like to justice.
’12th Fail’ shows the hard work and dedication that Manoj gets into, so much so that he takes up work in a library then in a flour mill for 15 hours a day to send money home, while he spends further six hours studying, leaving him only three hours to sleep every night?
The narrative also shows how people help each other and presents two extreme ends of methodologies. While one says passing these exams is like playing Snakes & Ladders, with one failure sending you back to the beginning and only a finite number of chances before you’re disqualified. The other points out that the secret to passing a key set of exams is learning how to write a dozen minimum 200-words essays in a stipulated amount of time.
Vikrant Massey as Manoj Kumar Sharma steals the show; the way he gets into the skin of the character makes it absolutely believable. The other important character of the narrative is the setting and the environment where the various characters are placed. The flour mill (setting) mentioned above is something that might bring jitters to the faint hearted.
The rest of the cast too are apt and help transport you into the world of competitive exams.
Well, there is far too much that can be said for ’12th Fail’ but that might take away the very experience of this semi-biographical story that has elements of emotion, hope & despair, a hint of romance and bromance too. The film doesn’t shy away from accepting that there’s still a lot of prejudice and bias in the system, which makes life tough for sincere youth akin to Manoj.
All in all, ’12th Fail’ is not about failures but about ‘restart-ing’ and aiming to achieve the unachievable through honesty; a must watch for students and everyone around them. A sure contender for various Awards.
Movie: 12th Fail
Based on: ‘Twelfth Fail’ (novel) by Anurag Pathak
Directed by: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
Cast: Vikrant Massey, Medha Shankar, Anant Vijay Joshi, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sarita Joshi
Duration: 2 hrs 26 mins