12th Fail Movie Review: An Unforgettable Journey of Honesty and Heroism

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s latest film, “12th Fail,” brings to life a true story recounted in Anurag Pathak’s book. The film stars Vikrant Massey as Manoj, a young man in the Chambal region, who dreams of becoming a policeman after being inspired by an honest cop. What sets this cop apart is his commitment to telling the truth. It doesn’t hurt that Manoj’s father is also a staunch advocate of truth.

Things take a turn when Manoj’s father is suspended for refusing to cover up the fact that government officials were selling farmers’ allotted seeds on the black market. This suspension leads to a humorous and tense encounter involving guns, illustrating that we’re in a region known for its notorious dacoits, where even the smallest disputes can escalate with firearms involved. “12th Fail” is a compelling tale of integrity and bravery.

A Remarkable Journey of Resilience: 12th Fail

Manoj faces incredible challenges as he aspires to pass the UPSC exam, which seems like an impossible dream given his background. A character mentions that out of the vast number of ‘Hindi-medium’ candidates aiming for IAS/IPS, only a small fraction, around 25-30, succeed. This sets the stage for a classic underdog story.

Unlike the usual clichéd tales of “spiritual triumph” that many movies offer, “12th Fail” presents the life of a genuine person rather than a scripted storyline. The film’s writing excels in its attention to small details that ultimately lead to significant and emotional moments. An excellent example is Manoj’s grandmother, who adamantly holds onto her pension even during the family’s most challenging times. When she eventually let’s go of this money willingly, and something unexpected happens to it, the impact is as heavy as a lead brick.

12th Fail: A Cinematic Gem of Real-Life Resilience

“12th Fail” is an exceptional film filled with poignant moments. It’s a story where words like “terrorism” and “tourism” cleverly interplay. The film portrays the challenges faced by Manoj, a Hindi-medium student who dreams of success in the UPSC exams. Despite its powerful themes, the storytelling remains refreshingly unpretentious.

The writing stands out with small, impactful details. Manoj’s father’s line, “Hum jaise log kahaan jeet paayenge,” met with his son’s determined response, “Par haar bhi nahin maanenge na!” adds depth to their characters. The film’s slogan, #Restart, embodies the message that one can always begin anew, even from rock bottom.

The character Shraddha, played by Medha Shankar, brings a quiet rebellion and depth to the “friendship to romance” angle. The film weaves a gentle narrative that crescendos with emotional force.

Throughout the movie, even in intense moments, the storytelling remains understated. This authenticity is what sets it apart. It explores Manoj’s journey from his village to the city and captures life’s ebb and flow with an unassuming, lifelike quality.

Video Credit : Jasstag

“12th Fail” minimizes the use of music, making it more impactful when it appears. The score, evoking Ravi Shankar’s music for Pather Panchali, enhances scenes rather than overshadowing them. The film’s director displays unwavering confidence in the story and its portrayal.

The cinematography by Rangarajan Ramabadran is unobtrusive, immersing the audience in the characters’ lives. It doesn’t rely on artificial emotional manipulation or melodrama.

“12th Fail” is a rare gem that demonstrates how to portray the struggles of the underprivileged authentically. It engages without feeling like a preachy lecture. The film’s emotional highs are subtle and genuine, resulting from the characters and their experiences.

In essence, “12th Fail” is a masterclass in honest and unmanipulative filmmaking, earning it top marks for its realistic portrayal of resilience.