Review: '12th Fail' deserves all your attention as Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Vikrant Massey deliver brilliance

Amid your big films that draw audiences, 12th Fail might get lost, but it shouldn't. It deserves eyeballs, and it deserves to be celebrated.

12th Fail

12th Fail

Seldom are movies made that are so raw, and that tug your heartstrings when you least expect it. The sheer conviction that director Vidhu Vinod Chopra had in the subject matter of 12th Fail was up for wondering till the final product was ready. It isn't a case of a director being indulgent and overly attached to his project like we see several times. 

This time, it's justified. It's worthy, and the film 12th Fail deserves as many mentions as it can get. While this would be enough to give my thoughts away, here's me talking about it further as having had the chance to see the film beforehand, I list down some points that might help you decide whether to watch it or not-

Raw, Authentic & Precise

Raw, Authentic & Precise

Right from the get-go, the research that has gone into creating this world is applaudable. It basically meant the production designer and the director coming together to make sure each and every aspect of the scene was real, and that shows without being obvious at all. Be it the scenes in Chambal where Manoj Sharma's (Vikrant Massey) beginnings are portrayed or be it him working for umpteen hours in a small room making chakki and studying under a bulb with meagre means - not one frame of the film 'cheats' in trying to oversell or undersell anything. 

The treatment is so raw and authentic that you subconsciously applaud the makers going the extra mile and the actors also adapting to it and performing in the setting. The lifestyle that Manoj Sharma leads before and during his days of struggle and on the journey to become an IPS officer is never deliberately glorified, trying to oversell the hardships but instead just showcases the grim reality.

The Smaller Moments & The Characterisation

The Smaller Moments & The Characterisation

Chopra also makes sure never to let the win in the end take away from the journey. You know the final triumph but to make sure the journey is shown in its real true self is never compromised. It's a rare and brilliant balance that Chopra establishes with 12th Fail where he doesn't sensationalise any development and still never lets this UPSC exam saga become boring or 'too-much-to-handle.' The jargons, educational terminologies and other factors are kept to a minimum even more so because we are like the protagonist in his early days when it comes to the understanding of this world. Amidst all this, the smaller moments are never compromised as well, and a lot of that has to be attributed to the dialogues which are penned by Jaskunwar Kohli, Aayush Saxena, Anurag Pathak and Chopra himself. They are relatable and yet enlightening and even funny when intended.

Then comes the characterisation, which is also done expertly as it can never be a solo victory when talking about one man's arduous journey. The people who assisted and even demotivated Sharma in his pursuit are given satisfactory arcs. Anant V Joshi as Pande, who is also the narrator, is fabulous, while Priyanshu Chatterjee and Sarita Joshi's cameo steal the show, but the find of this film is Medha Shankr. The lady is absolutely fantastic as Shraddha Joshi - Manoj Sharma's love interest, who is so much more than that. Showcasing the right amount of innocence, tenderness, love and supreme on-screen chemistry with Vikrant Massey, Shankr has asked everyone to take notice of her.

The Message & The Impact

The Message & The Impact

The biggest win for 12th Fail is that it tugs your heartstrings and connects in every manner possible. At its outset, it is the age-old saga of a man fighting incredible odds to achieve something that was impossible and unheard of, but Chopra finds the beating heart, the soul and the human emotions so fabulously well that they become the perfect garb to convey the impossible dream. 

There is a lot of messaging ranging from a righteous man fighting the system - be it educational or political, there's human empathy, which pretty much becomes the reason for Manoj Sharma to thrive through those tough times and, of course, the campaign that says #Restart which basically wants to convey that our survival instinct and our abilities are never limited. It will need a gargantuan effort and ask you to be consistent and persevere, but it will be worth it. Everything is so pronounced and clear.

Vikrant Massey and Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Vikrant Massey and Vidhu Vinod Chopra

Just give Vikrant Massey all the awards, accolades, and whatever appreciates him possible. Massey spearheads this project and delivers a performance for the ages. There is no moment where you might feel that he has lost a beat or is unconvincing. Massey embodies Manoj Sharma to an extent I cannot think any other actor would have been able to. One to cherish!

Then we have Vidhu Vinod Chopra. A director who has been rather inactive while being busy producing films for the longest time. But here, he reminds us that four decades in the industry later, he can still deliver excellence in the most nonchalant way possible. He doesn't need big production value or mega marketing to tell a story that touches you, he never needed that. But here, with 12th Fail, Vidhu Vinod Chopra has delivered one of his best films ever.

The Verdict

The runtime of 2 hours 27 minutes might seem long to a few, but it isn't that much of a bother. It can be debated that a few scenes, especially in the second half, act as fillers instead of propelling the story, but none of that discounts what we are witnessing here.

Amid your big films that draw audiences, 12th Fail might get lost, but it shouldn't. It deserves eyeballs, and it deserves to be celebrated.

Rating - **** (4/5)

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Vidhu Vinod Chopra Thumbnail

Vidhu Vinod Chopra

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Vikrant Massey

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12th Fail

Comments (1)

I saw the news here and went to the movie. It was so good, loved it.

1 months ago

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