Manoj Kumar, the protagonist in Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s drama film ’12th Fail,’ charts a daunting yet equally inspiring path within the film’s narrative as a poor boy from a small village to a diligent UPSC student aspiring to become an IPS Officer. As he prepares to take on the monumental exams, his story blends with numerous other UPSC aspirants like him in Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar. Of them all, however, Gauri Bhaiya, a veteran UPSC taker, remains one of the brightest guiding lights in Manoj’s life. Therefore, since the film is based on the real life of Manoj Kumar, a successful IPS Officer who failed his 12th exams, viewers must be curious about the roots of Gauri’s character in reality.
Gauri Bhaiya Reflects a Relevant Reality Of UPSC Aspirants
Introduced into the plot as only Gauri Bhaiya, epitheted solely by the fond “brother” title rather than a last name, actor Anshuman Pushkar’s character has a complicated relationship with reality. While it is true that ’12th Fail,’ the film, is based on the true life story of Manoj Kumar Sharma, some parts of the narrative have been tinkered and sculpted in service of the narrative. Therefore, ample creative liberty is infused within this dramatized and almost biographical account.
For the same reason, characters like Manoj, Shraddha Joshi, and Pritam Pandey, the film’s primary focus, end up having a more tangible basis in reality. Whereas secondary characters, who play minor albeit instrumental roles within the plot, like Gauri Bhaiya, become more fictionalized than real. Nevertheless, the film’s overall authenticity in portraying the environment a UPSC student often surrounds themself with inevitably lends a sense of realism to every character, even Gauri Bhaiya.
In the film, Gauri Bhaiya embodies a mentor role in Manoj and several other students like him. The man has attempted the UPSC exam numerous times and even reached the interview stage with his last attempt. Therefore, he has a plethora of knowledge that he can impart to newcomers so that they can learn from his mistakes and successes.
Even after Gauri ends up failing in the last attempt, he uses his endless devotion to help others and starts a tea stall, “Restart,” where he gives out free advice to UPSC students. Consequently, his stall becomes a hub for many students, and the man becomes a supportive pillar in Manoj’s life.
In reality, several similar “Bhaiyas” exist who have attempted and failed the UPSC exams but continue to be a part of the student ecosystem in Mukherjee Nagar by becoming a sort of mentor to younger students. As such, with the incorporation of Gauri’s story, ’12th Fail’ adds a significant narrative that reflects real life with authenticity.
Many UPSC students, whether they are attempting the exams in real-time or have done so in the past, will be able to identify their own experiences either as a pupil of a real-life Gauri Bhaiya or a mentor themselves. Therefore, in ’12th Fail’s’ depiction of the UPSC aspirant lifestyle, the character remains a crucial addition.
Furthermore, Gauri’s perspective, as a UPSC student from a poor background, also highlights a part of reality that remains intrinsic to Manoj’s story. Unlike Manoj, Gauri belongs to an OBC Category, which essentially means he can attempt the UPSC exams six times instead of four, which was the norm at the time. These days, six attempts have become the limit for the general category, while students belonging to the OBC category can attempt the exams nine times.
Thus, Gauri’s journey remains reflective of the era-appropriate experience of people with similar backgrounds. However, more importantly, Gauri’s never-ending faith and support in Manoj’s journey reflects solidarity among the nation’s financially challenged community. Ultimately, in spirit and in experience, Gauri’s character remains rooted in reality. Nevertheless, it’s near-impossible to anchor his character with a real-life individual.