“12th Fail” brings forth a compelling tale of struggle and triumph, masterfully directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. The film revolves around Manoj Kumar Sharma, portrayed brilliantly by Vikrant Massey, a young man from Chambal with dreams of becoming an IPS officer. Set against the backdrop of the challenging world of IPS aspirants, this film dives deeper into the complexities of the Indian education system, societal prejudices, and the struggle for equality.
A Nuanced Biopic with a Political Voice
In a time when biopics have become a popular genre in Hindi cinema, “12th Fail” stands out as a film that transcends conventions. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, known for his iconic films like “Parinda” and “Love Story 1942,” uses this narrative to have a conversation with the audience, focusing not just on an individual’s journey but on broader issues facing society. The film is adapted from Anurag Pathak’s book, also titled “12th Fail,” and presents a story that goes beyond a mere celebration of success.
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The screenplay, co-written by Chopra, Jaskunwar Kohli, and associate writer Aayush Saxena, unfolds with intricate details and a clever use of foreshadowing. It engages the audience by planting seeds of situations that later blossom with profound impact, creating a sense of rewarding storytelling. The climax, in particular, is one of the most fruitful and emotional sequences in recent years, celebrating both individual achievement and societal struggles.
A Bold and Political Voice
Chopra seamlessly weaves political and social commentary into the narrative, making “12th Fail” a poignant and brave film. The film highlights the inequality and prejudice faced by those left behind in the progress of society. It questions the validity of English as a parameter for credibility in top positions and portrays the flaws in the education system. The stark contrast between urban development and the struggles of the less privileged is a prominent theme. Chopra’s dialogues are sharp and unapologetically critical of the system, reminding the audience of the long journey towards equality.
The film also underlines the need for representation, as one character states, “When one of us becomes an IPS officer, it gives hope to everyone.” “12th Fail” serves as a reminder that true progress comes not just through individual success but through uplifting the entire society.
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Vikrant Massey delivers a career-defining performance as Manoj Kumar Sharma. He fully embodies the character, from the boy in a Chambal village to the candidate facing the IPS interview. Massey’s portrayal is authentic, convincing, and emotionally resonant. His performance is a testament to his acting prowess and dedication to the role.
Medha Shankar’s portrayal of a silent yet strong character is commendable. She skillfully conveys her character’s complexity, portraying a headstrong and intelligent individual hidden behind a seemingly fragile exterior.
Anant Vijay Joshi’s performance as Pandey reflects his character’s helplessness and reluctance to pursue IPS effectively. His performance adds depth to the film, making him an actor to watch out for in the future.
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Anshuman Pushkar, in the role of a supportive friend, leaves a lasting impression with his portrayal. His character lingers in the audience’s memory even beyond the film’s runtime.
Direction, Cinematography, and Music
Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s direction is nothing short of masterful. He tells a compelling underdog story with a unique approach and a captivating narrative structure. He skillfully presses emotional buttons, guiding the audience through a cathartic journey. The use of mirrors and handheld shots adds depth and immersion to the storytelling.
Cinematographer Rangarajan Ramabadran’s work contributes significantly to the film’s cinematic appeal. His meticulous framing and camera angles make every scene visually compelling. The handheld shots create a sense of intimacy, allowing the audience to connect more deeply with the characters and their journey.
Shantanu Moitra’s background music adds an emotional layer to the film, reminiscent of the work of legends like Ravi Shankar. His music enhances the storytelling, creating a rich and immersive cinematic experience. His ability to create musical voids and fill them with notes from Indian musical instruments is particularly noteworthy.
“12th Fail” is a remarkable achievement in Hindi cinema, blending personal storytelling with political commentary. Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Vikrant Massey, and the talented cast and crew deliver a film that goes beyond the conventions of biopics. It offers a compelling narrative, tackling societal issues and the struggle for equality.
With its powerful performances and nuanced storytelling, “12th Fail” is a triumph of personal and political cinema, reminding us of the long journey towards true progress and representation. Chopra’s direction, the cinematography, and Shantanu Moitra’s music come together to create a deeply immersive and emotional cinematic experience.