A few years ago, I was interviewing an IAS officer for a crucial story when a young man entered his office. The officer asked him to sit, and he settled into a chair placed close to me. The hairline of the man had significantly receded while a feeling of weariness was etched on his face.
A few moments later—as we were about to wrap up the interview—the young man suddenly facepalmed and began crying. Sensing his distress, the polite officer offered him a glass of water and tried to pacify him. The deep crow's feet, folds on his brow and a tired face were symptomatic of the pain he was experiencing.
Here goes the young man’s story:
After completing his graduation in science, the man landed in Delhi to prepare for the coveted civil services. His parents, who lived off the land, would every month save some money from their measly resources and send it to him.
They had hoped that their son would qualify for the elite service. They had strong reasons to repose their faith in his abilities. The man had excelled in academics, standing out with top marks in class 12 in his village and earning a first division in graduation.
The man, however, was not able to write Mains, the second leg of the most coveted examination. He had exhausted all his chances and finally returned home with a receded hairline and a face marked by creases. The man, who appeared way older than his age, wanted to set up his own business and had come to get his small venture funded out of some government scheme.
The alleyways of Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar are littered with similar stories where lakhs of aspirants vying for few prestigious slots each year bury faces in their hands and bawl their eyes out. However, Vidhu Vinod Chopra chose to pick up a success story for his latest movie 12th Fail.
The movie, beyond a shadow of doubt, successfully portrays the struggle of an underprivileged man who qualifies for the elite service in the teeth of formidable economic challenges.
The grit, courage, and resilience could be the different themes of the movie, which is being fêted by the critics. It, on the other hand, again made us believe in the proverbial that “failure is an orphan”.
It lionises an achiever and goes completely mute on the painful struggles of those who could not make it to the final selection. The persistent efforts and struggle that unfortunately do not yield targeted results are hardly being acknowledged and appreciated.
Of late, in Kashmir, we witnessed candidates qualifying for NEET fêted by the media with their success stories( also advertisements of coaching centres featuring them) plastering the newspapers.
Knots of smartphone-wielding social media reporters showed up at their door steps, conducting their interviews for their lacklustre social media pages and spurring a discussion in our living rooms. This newly emerging trend not only makes the parents raise the bar for their children, but also induces a sense of despair among those who flunk NEET or other similar tests.
Chopra’s movie has shone light on the success story of poor Manoj, but chose not to highlight the genuine struggle of the 12th pass young man and thousands like him, who are now looking for other means of livelihood after exhausting their all attempts.