’12th Fail,’ a Hindi-language Vidhu Vinod Chopra film, follows the story of Manoj Kumar, a young and honest man from a poor village who dreams of bringing change into the country by becoming a civil servant. As such, despite failing his 12th grade, Manoj moves away from his small village of Chambal with nothing but his family’s blessings and fiery determination. However, shortly after, Manoj faces a bleak, uncertain future due to the theft of his scant belongings and his grandmother’s gifted savings.
Nevertheless, in that moment of darkness, the man finds a beacon of hope in Pritam Pandey, a kind stranger who takes Manoj under his wing. After some initial support, Pritam helps Manoj acquire a man as a peon in a library and teaches him everything about the UPSC exams. As such, Pritam’s character remains a cornerstone of Manoj’s success. Since the film charts the real-life story of IPS Officer Manoj Kumar, fans must be curious to know if Pritam’s character has any basis in a real UPSC aspirant from Kumar’s life. SPOILERS AHEAD!
Pritam Pandey is Based on a Character in Anurag Pathak’s Novel
Pritam Pandey from ’12th Fail’ most likely takes partial inspiration from a real-life person. Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s film has a basis in the eponymous 2019 inspirational non-fiction novel by Anurag Pathak. Therefore, many of the characters, including the film’s main cast, are adapted to the screen from the pages of Pathak’s work. In turn, since the latter is a biography based on Manoj Kumar’s real life, set during the years he attempted the UPSC exams, the novel and its elements inevitably have a strong basis in reality.
Considering Pandey is a primary character within Pathak’s ’12th Fail,’ we can conclude that the UPSC student-turned-TV-reporter is a real-life person. However, unlike Kumar and his wife, Shraddha Joshi, who are each an IPS Officer and an IRS Officer, respectively, Pandey has remained out of the limelight, especially in relation to Pathak’s work. As such, it’s near-impossible to track down the man and relate a face to the name.
For the same reason, it remains difficult to infer the level of authenticity behind Chopra’s interpretation of Pandey’s character in his film. Still, despite the numerous creative liberties undertaken by the novel’s on-screen adaptation, it remains faithful to the source material. In fact, most changes that the film’s narrative equips in its storytelling continue to be in service of reflecting a vaster sense of relatability between the on-screen Manoj Kumar and numerous hard-working students like him.
For his part, Pritam’s character, whom actor Joshi Anantvijay embodies with effortless empathy and realistic imperfections, is a constant companion by Manoj’s side in the film. His characteristic ride-or-die trait remains a genre staple that viewers will find familiar and compelling. Nonetheless, Pritam also distinguishes himself through his missteps and mistakes, which only serve to infuse him with further realism.
Moreover, Pritam’s own personal journey, as a man forced to dedicate his life to a dream his father pushed upon him, reflects a crucial reality for several UPSC students. Therefore, Pritam’s character remains rooted in real life due to a connection to reality alongside his well-written and executed storyline.
Furthermore, it’s also worth noting that assigning Pritam the narrator role within the film, ’12th Fail,’ draws a parallel between author Pathak and the character. Likewise, Pritam also shares another similarity with the writer—namely, his caring, if misguided, attempts to dissuade Manoj’s romance with Shraddha. It’s unknown whether or not these parallels are put in place intentionally. Nevertheless, they only add to Pritam’s realism.
Where Is Pritam Pandey Now?
Due to the ambiguous nature of Pritam’s character and his real-life counterpart, no information is available about the latter as of now. Therefore, fans can only learn about the man through Pathak’s non-fiction novel, wherein the author describes Manoj’s life beside Pritam and their other close friends. As per the book, Pritam Pandey went on to become a TV reporter, a future that the film hints at as well. Yet, nothing more is known about the man at the time.