12th Fail: The biopic that caught the captured the nation’s imagination

By Sridhar Subramaniam
Manoj Kumar Sharma and wife Shraddha Joshi with Anand Mahindra // Pic supplied

Anand Mahindra, the suave chairman of the Mumbai-based Mahindra Group tweeted:

“They were shy when I requested them for their autographs, which I am proudly holding. But they are the true real life heroes Manoj Kumar Sharma IPS and his wife Shraddha Joshi IRS. The extraordinary couple on whose lives the movie 12th Fail is based. Over lunch today, I learned that the film’s narrative is true to their real stories. And they continue practising their philosophy of living a life of scrupulous integrity. If India is to become a global power, it will happen more rapidly if more people adopt their way of life. So, they are the real celebrities of this country. And their autographs are heirlooms. I am a wealthier man today, for having met them.”

Coming from Anand Mahindra it is a powerful impact statement and a telling testament to the life and saga of Manoj Kumar Sharma IPS.

Vikrant Massey has earned critical acclaim for his stellar performance when played the reel life of Manoj Kumar Sharma, the Indian Police Service Officer who defied all odds in life and got to where he is today.

Manoj was a resident of Bilgaon, a hamlet in the district of Morena in Madhya Pradesh. His father was a government servant and his family was struggling to make both ends meet. As a student he was not academically inclined. He passed his 10th grade with mediocre marks and in 12th a milestone year he failed all subjects except Hindi. It was at this time when he was in the depths of despair and in the slough of despond that he got smitten by the cupid and he fell head over heels in love with Shraddha Joshi. That defining moment changed the trajectory of his life.

He did not propose to Shraddha for a long time owing to his failure in the 12th Class examination for the fear of rejection. But eventually he mustered courage and proposed to her and she surprisingly accepted his proposal. I believe he said, “If you say yes, then I will turn the world around.” All the wannabe Romeos can draw inspiration here!

It would have sounded like bravado to Shraddha but she reposed faith in him. Manoj however was made of sterner stuff. His persistence paid off and he has defied odds and together with Shraddha has scripted a legend that will inspire many a youngster.

Manoj Kumar Sharma and wife Shraddha Joshi // Pic supplied

He was hell bent on winning her over. He started preparing for the UPSC exams, the pathway to a rewarding career. But his decision was not smooth sailing and he met with strong headwinds. To pay his exam fees and preparatory course he did all type of jobs like driving a tempo, walking dogs for the rich in Delhi and at one point in time also slept on the streets of Delhi. He did a stint as a peon in a library in Delhi which he says has helped him prepare for the UPSC exams and also instilled in him the spirit of not giving up. In the library he read the books and studied personalities of writers like Maxim Gorky, Lincoln and also writers like Gajanan Muktibodh. All this helped him understand the meaning of life and hardwork. It dawned on him like an epiphany!

He failed the UPSC exams three times but succeeded eventually in his fourth attempt with an All -India Rank of 121 to become a Police Officer (Indian Police Service). Today he serves as an Additional Commissioner in Metropolitan Mumbai. The love of his life Shraddha Joshi is an Indian Revenue Service Officer and has done remarkably well too. She is currently serving as the Managing Director of MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) in Mumbai.

Their remarkable tale is the stuff Bollywood romances are made off. How positively reinforcing their love has been! Behind every successful man there is a woman! I would say this is a tale where love has trumped and has been mutually reinforcing.

Screenshot of Vikrant Massey in the film ’12th Fail’

12th Fail is a 2023 Hindi biopic directed, produced and written by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, based on the 2019 eponymous non-fiction book by Anurag Patha about Manoj Kumar Sharma who overcame extreme poverty to become a serving Police Officer. It emerged as a sleeper hit grossing over 69 crores on a 20 crore budget. At the 69th Filmfare Awards it went on to win five awards including the Best Actor award.

Actor Vikrant Massey won encomiums and accolades during the Filmfare Awards 2024 for his superlative performance. He deserves it on two counts. It is his debut and a win at this event speaks volumes about his acting prowess but more importantly he won critical acclaim triumphing over icons like Manoj Bajpai, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkumar Rao, Abhishek Bacchan, Jaideep Ahlawat and Vicky Kaushal.

An achievement in itself!

Films like this inspire and there is a feel good factor after viewing them.

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