ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

'12th Fail' Review: Vikrant Massey Brilliantly Helms a Story of Hope & Courage

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

Updated
Movie Reviews
4 min read
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

On the face of it, Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 12th Fail is about the grueling process of preparing for an exam like the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) but it is also the story of honesty – of fighting for what is right in a world that is increasingly finding comfort in looking the other way or being complacent. 

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

Vikrant Massey in a still from 12th Fail.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Inspired by a true story, the film follows the story of Manoj Kumar Sharma (Vikrant Massey) who lives with his family in Chambal. While he creates chits to cheat in his exams, his father is suspended from his job for his honesty. This is the setting of the film – the story of a man who doesn’t see an alternative to cheating until he comes face to face with integrity. 

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

With his grandmother’s (Sarita Joshi) savings to his name, Manoj sets off to the big city to fulfill his dream of becoming a cop. The journey isn’t easy – in fact, Manoj’s eventual mentor (Anshumaan Pushkar) compares the UPSC journey to a game of snakes and ladders. So to say, no matter how far you go, one simple mistake can bring you back to the start or to ‘zero’. 

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

A still from 12th Fail.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

Manoj’s journey is going to be difficult – he does not come from privilege; he isn’t even said to be academically gifted. In a country where we often ask students to measure their efforts in hours, we often forget to account for those who don’t have the luxury of time. Through Manoj, 12th Fail exposes how very few people start off on a level field. 

Manoj’s responsibilities towards his family and his insistence to never accept a favour he can’t pay back add hurdles to an already difficult journey. When he spends more than half his day working, how is he going to compete with the thousands of other applicants who have time on their side?

Manoj’s story is one of determination in the face of adversity and Vikrant Massey captures the character’s desperation and fire brilliantly. 

Every scene seems meticulously planned out and executed to perfection – there is absolutely no way to not root for him.

Some of the dialogue writing borders on preachy but the atmosphere the film creates (especially through the pop anthem ‘Restart’) overshadows the flaws. The one flaw that is difficult to ignore, however, is the background score. In any film, the score is crucial – it can make or break a film. Here the score is too simple, often too repetitive, to leave a mark. 

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

Sarita Joshi in a still from 12th Fail.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

The camerawork, on the other hand, feels too rushed, despite the fact that most of the frames are designed well. For instance, there are some scenes that would’ve benefitted from still shots but don’t receive that treatment. 

The film's tone shifts when the setting changes from Chambal to Delhi but the former borders on the 'yellow filter' western films often use. At first, it is reminiscent of the Shyam Benegal school of cinema but soon begins to feel jarring.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

On the other hand, 12th Fail has the soul of 3 Idiots; watching the former will almost make you nostalgic. The stories of an aspirant-turned-mentor, the reluctant applicant who can’t stand up to his parents, and the love interest who becomes both motivation and inspiration all add to the film’s heart.

After Manoj meets and falls in love with Shraddha Joshi (Medha Shankar), I felt almost skeptical that she would be relegated to a secondary character. 

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

A still from 12th Fail.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

While she doesn’t get the same importance as Manoj, 12th Fail soon becomes Manoj and Shraddha’s story – the story of how both of them embark on their individual journeys while reveling in each other’s success and joy.

There is something rather comforting about the chemistry Manoj and Shraddha share (and it helps that Massey and Shankar seem to reflect the same charm). For lack of a better word, the way their relationship develops is adorable.

What starts out as a story of an IPS aspirant ends up becoming so much more. How does one look at 12th Fail and not question the way society holds back some and helps others succeed; how does one not question privilege? 
ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Writer-director Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film is a reminder of the perpetual fight between good and evil that exists all around us while highlighting the importance of empathy and integrity. It is a preachy message but it’s an important one nonetheless – it would be foolish to assume that every wrongdoer is brought to justice and this film isn’t foolish.

12th Fail focuses on the story of one couple without making them out to be messiahs. Instead, they are just two people who want to do good to the best of their abilities. 

'12th Fail' is directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and stars Vikrant Massey in the lead.

Vikrant Massey in a still from 12th Fail.

(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)

12th Fail is a film that often takes itself too seriously but that doesn’t make it a bad watch. On the contrary, I would implore you to give it a chance. 

12th Fail hits theatres on 27 October. 

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×