’12th Fail,’ a drama film by Vidhu Vinod Chopra, is a story about a student hailing from a financially challenged background who aspires to clear the highly competitive Indian UPSC exams. Manoj Kumar’s journey toward becoming an IPS Officer begins in the small village of Chambal, notorious for its cheating ways. However, the momentary arrival of a new DSP, just in time for Manoj’s 12th exams, inspires the boy to swear off dishonesty and seek a career in civil service.
Consequently, Manoj leaves his village and arrives in Delhi, where his paths cross with other UPSC attempters like him. After forming close bonds with kind-hearted Pritam Pandey and striking a romance with Shraddha Joshi, Manoj balances life and invigorating studies to achieve his dreams. In following Manoj, an ordinary man’s extraordinary life, the film brings an authentic depiction of the UPSC-level education system in India. As such, viewers must be tempted to learn more about Manoj’s character and the man who may have inspired his character.
Manoj Kumar Sharma, The Real IPS Officer
Yes, Manoj Kumar from ’12th Fail’ is based on a real-life IPS Officer of the same name. Although the film noticeably takes some creative liberty in retelling Kumar’s story, it remains truthful to the man’s life and recreates his experience as a UPSC student with authenticity. In doing so, the film finds an invaluable source from Kumar himself, who was present on set at times. Furthermore, the film employs Anurag Pathak, author of the 2019 eponymous book that the film is based on, as an associate writer.
Therefore, Kumar’s on-screen character, embodied by Vikrant Massey, holds many significant similarities to the real-life man. Like his character, Kumar also passed 9th and 10th grade in the third division and failed his 12th. Nevertheless, unwilling to let the same hold him back, the man, born in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena district, prepared for his UPSC exams while juggling odd jobs like tempo driving.
Likewise, Kumar also worked at a library as a peon in Delhi. Thus, the depiction of ’12th Fail’s’ Manoj and his tumultuous life during his post-high school days have a firm basis in reality. However, it’s also important to note that the struggles that Manoj’s character undergoes aren’t singularly and entirely reflective of his real-life counterpart.
The film’s director and screenwriter, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and his co-writer, Jaskunwar Kohli, infused Kumar’s real-life story with inspiration from several other accounts of people with similar experiences. In a conversation with CNN News 18, Chopra, who prefers not to think of his film as biographical, the filmmaker shared that he took inspiration from the lives of several people he’s met over time.
Citing an SSP from Agra named Chaudhary and several other unnamed but real-life individuals from IAS and IPS people, alongside students, Chopra emphasized how their stories also helped him create the film. Nevertheless, Kumar’s influence over the film shines through, primarily through his character’s romantic subplot with Shraddha Joshi, a character based on Kumar’s real-life wife.
Many of the beats within Manoj and Shraddha’s on-screen romance seem to take direct inspiration from the real-life couple. For instance, like Kumar and his wife, Manoj, and Shraddha also faced a rough patch where the latter was initially reluctant to pursue a relationship with him. As such, alongside Kumar’s evident relation to Manoj’s character in the film, the latter also garners inspiration from the vast public, making his character relatable and accessible.
Where Is Manoj Kumar Sharma Now?
As depicted in the film, Manoj Kumar Sharma cleared the UPSCs on his fourth attempt, securing an All India Rank of 121. Thus, he went on to become an IPS Officer. Currently, Kumar resides in Mumbai, where he serves as an Additional Commissioner in the Police Force. The man has also fondly earned the nicknames “Simba” and “Singham,” two iconic cops from Hindi Cinema, due to his strong personality.
Kumar lives a happy life with his life partner, his wife, Shraddha Joshi, and another IPS Officer like himself. The couple are parents to two children, an older boy and a young girl. Aside from his demanding law enforcement work life, the man likes to spend his free time gardening, with an inclination toward growing cucumbers and radishes. With the film, ’12th Fail,’ Kumar has been lifted into the limelight more than usual and uses his platform to share his inspiring story. Fans can find the Police Commissioner on several social media accounts, where he shares tidbits of his career and life with his family.
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