12th Fail Movie Review – Vikrant Massey delivers exceptional performance

Sometimes, it’s the underdog story that resonates most with audiences, and writer-director Vidhu Vinod Chopra showcases his expertise in his latest project, “12th Fail.” Adapted from the novel of the same name by Anurag Pathak, the film tells the tale of Manoj Kumar Sharma, hailing from Chambal. Despite having dropped out after the 12th grade, he embarks on a journey to prepare for the UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) examination, widely regarded as one of the most challenging in the country.

12th Fail Movie Review

In “12th Fail,” Chopra skillfully uses this inspiring and emotionally charged story as his canvas, painting it with a rich palette of emotions. The film delves into the realms of pain, anger, failure, victory, helplessness, and confidence. Vikrant Massey, in the role of Manoj, portrays a character who takes on menial jobs at a tea stall, an aata chakki, and even engages in toilet cleaning. The film doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships but presents the situation with authenticity and rawness. It is likely to strike a chord with the thousands and lakhs of students who diligently prepare for the UPSC exam year after year. While some achieve success, others find themselves hitting the “restart” button, giving it another shot. The concept of “restart” for UPSC aspirants is introduced early in the film and remains a recurring theme, subtly woven throughout the narrative until the very end.

Plot of Movie

“12th Fail” also sheds light on the shortcomings of our education system, where a school in Chambal openly encourages students to cheat in their board exams. Passing the 12th standard is deemed crucial as it opens up job opportunities for students to support their families. The story takes a turn when DSP Dushyant Singh, played by Priyanshu Chatterjee in a small yet impactful role, intervenes at the school and puts an end to the cheating. This incident sparks a realization in Manoj (played by Massey) that he wants to take a different path.

However, when the next academic year begins, the DSP is transferred, and the school reverts to its usual practices. Everyone else manages to pass with top marks, but Manoj is content with his third division. He moves to Gwalior for UPSC coaching and, eventually, finds himself in Delhi’s bustling Mukherjee Nagar area. This area is renowned for housing countless students from across the country, all vying for a single spot in the UPSC.

The film focuses on Manoj’s journey, along with his girlfriend Shraddha Joshi (played by Medha Shankar), as they navigate the daily challenges and hurdles in this competitive environment.

Performances of the Cast

Vikrant Massey’s portrayal in “12th Fail” is hailed as a remarkable performance and quite possibly his career-best. At every juncture of the film, he flawlessly embodies a multitude of character nuances. As a teenager in school, he convincingly portrays the innocence of a student oblivious to the immorality of cheating. When he becomes a struggling UPSC aspirant, his performance exudes grit, determination, and the willingness to sacrifice sleep, dedicating just three hours a night for rest while managing to study and work petty jobs for survival. Massey’s depiction of Manoj’s character leaves no room for complaints, as he fully embodies the role and delivers a flawless performance.

Review of the Movie

“12th Fail” maintains its engaging quality throughout its 147-minute duration without ever becoming tedious or didactic. It sustains the tension, chaos, and hustle, preserving its pace, making it a captivating viewing experience. Vidhu Vinod Chopra ensures that each subplot or storyline introduced in the film has its own unique narrative, and none of them appear forced within the screenplay. Whether it’s Manoj’s friend Pandey, the son of a government servant, or Manoj’s mentor Gauri bhaiya (played by Anshuman Pushkar), who, after failing to achieve his dream of becoming an IPS officer, dedicates his life to training and helping others restart their journeys, each character has their own story, narrated with intricate details and nuances.

Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s direction in “12th Fail” is notable for its use of straightforward yet impactful dialogues. They strike a chord with the audience and leave a lasting impression. Chopra adeptly captures the vulnerabilities of the students who face failures, setbacks, and ultimately rise again. Simultaneously, he briefly touches upon the corrupt system that aims to hinder the education and empowerment of the youth who could potentially hold positions of power. Despite addressing these broader issues, the film never loses its core essence as a sincere and genuine narrative of determination and conviction.


“12th Fail” is a compelling watch, offering insights not only into the challenges and emotions experienced by UPSC aspirants but also shedding light on the broader issues within our education system. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s narrative resonates with audiences, much like his earlier work in “3 Idiots.” It serves as a must-watch film that provides a window into the world of determination, education, and the struggles of those striving for success in the UPSC examinations.

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