12th Fail review: Where there is a will and true love, there is always a way!

Writer-director-producer Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film is inspired by the real-life story of IPS officer Manoj Kumar Sharma and his wife Shraddha Joshi.

ByShashiprasad S M

Published:Jan 13, 2024

Vikrant Massey in 12th Fail
A befitting ode to Manoj Kumar Sharma, IPS!

12th Fail (Hindi)

  • Cast: Vikrant Massey, Medha Shankar, Anant Joshi, Anshumaan Pushkar, Harish Khanna, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sanjay Bishnoi, Sukumar Tudu
  • Director: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
  • Producer: Vidhu Vinod Chopra
  • Music: Shantanu Moitra
  • Runtime: 2 hours 27 minutes

Everyone is unique with their own set of talents and skills. A man who loves to sing should not be forced to be a top-class dancer. The same person may even become a good dancer with all the hard work, but his heart and mind will always be at singing.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s 12th Fail resonates with one simple yet very effective mantra in life — Where there is a will, there is a way.

Inspired by the real-life story of Manoj Kumar Sharma whose grit and determination against all odds in life to become an IPS officer, the film is truly inspiring.

It is even more heart-warming to watch it for its true love story that further makes the protagonist strong-willed to realise his dream, no matter what.

A 12th fail myself, due to unforeseen circumstances, and now a PhD scholar in one of the most reputed Universities in the country, 12th Fail as a movie resonates a lot, though I did not face as many challenges and hardships as the central character.

Let’s crack this one:

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A still from Vidhu Vinod Chopra's 12th Fail

A still from Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s ’12th Fail’. (X)

It is based on the biopic by Anurag Pathak’s “12th Fail“, inspired by the real-life story of IPS officer Manoj Kumar Sharma and his wife Shraddha Joshi, an IRS officer.

For those who haven’t yet watched 12th Fail — released in theatres on 27 October — nor read the biopic or watched the flick on Disney+ Hotstar, let me give you a sneak peek of Manoj Kumar Sharma’s awe-inspiring tale in a nutshell.

Manoj Kumar Sharma (Vikrant Massey) hails from a humble background in Bilgaon, a small town near Chambal forest – a dacoit-infested area in Madhya Pradesh.

12th Fail kickstarts with his father, an honest clerk, getting suspended for hitting a corrupt officer.

A class 12 student, Manoj — like every other student in school — is encouraged to cheat in the examination. However, an honest police officer, DSP Dushyanth Singh, stops mass copying and even arrests the headmaster, who tries to bribe him.

The master calls such practices in the region normalcy!

Dushyant is transferred for obvious reasons, and the next year, everyone in the school passes class 12 in the first class, but Manoj manages to secure a third class since he chooses not to cheat.

What led to the change in Manoj’s ‘no cheating’ in exams and his sudden determination to become an honest police officer like Dushyant Singh? How Manoj realises his dream against all odds is the real essence of the heart-warming tale of real life to reel life.

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Top class

Though based on a book, writing for the screen that is inspired by real-life characters is a challenge, and a bigger task to present the same on the screen. There is always a chance of overplaying or underplaying incidents that may give an impression of an unreal experience.

But 12th Fail scores good marks as it results in a realistic feeling, and all thanks to good writing, making and on-screen performances.

The premise, too, adds value – be it the village scenes or when Manoj moves into Gwalior and then to New Delhi for UPSC preparation. Every bit of detailing is meticulously shot to near perfection.

Vikrant Massey lives Manoj Sharma

Medha Shankar in 12th Fail

Medha Shankar in ’12th Fail’. (X)

If one has to pick the best part of 12th Fail, then it has to be Vikrant Massey who has portrayed the character of Manoj Kumar Sharma on screen. At times, his brilliant performance gives an impression as if he is living a real-life person.

While Manoj Kumar’s real determination and strong will made him achieve his dream of becoming an IPS officer, Vikrant’s determination and honest portrayal of Manoj on reel is commendable. If his acting has to be given marks like in the UPSC examination, he would definitely outshine every other aspirant in that segment.

Equally impressive are the performances of Medha Shankar as Shraddha, Anant Joshi as Pritam Pandey, and Anshuman Pushkar as Gauri Bhaiya.

Even the other minor characters infused life throughout the film’s journey to triumph.

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Not just the tale of one man

Though 12th Fail heavily focuses on Manoj Kumar Sharma’s journey from being ready to cheat in exams to an honest and hardworking student and cracking UPSC on his final attempt, other characters inspire us too.

Pritam Pandey dreams of becoming a TV news reporter. His unwavering support and friendship also project human values.

Further, Gauri Bhaiya’s selfless guidance to fellow UPSC aspirants even after failing in his last attempt, shows a lot of character, which is a big takeaway when it comes to life lessons.

Medha Shankar, as Shraddha — who stands firmly with Manoj, is a testament to true and unconstitutional love.


The title might be 12th Fail for a reason, but the movie is no short of a first-class experience. It comes with great life lessons that are inspiring.

A must-watch, especially if one is feeling low and lacks confidence to achieve one’s goal in life.

(Views expressed here are personal.)