12th Fail movie has been praised by many to have offered something different to movie-buffs. The movie has so many reasons to be termed inspirational for all those who dream to join civil services. This Vidhu Vinod Chopra movie is a refreshing break from the flicks which have a common theme and no layers to offer in terms of the aspirations of educated youth in India aspiring to rank among the higher echelons. Even the recent Shahrukh starrer Dunki runs on the redundant path though in all subtleties.
At the face of it the movie has all ingredients to take note of people at the lower stratum of the society who rise to prominence through their life and blood. Having said that, from the point of view of someone who failed after appearing in interview in the civil services examination it has gone down an oft beaten path of Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander (All is well that ends well); all have taken note of Manoj Kumar Sharma’s ascent to eminence. Suppose Manoj had failed in the interview in the third attempt. Don't tell me his Shraddha would have still waited for this interview failure for wedding. Very few watch movies singing paeans about people who are at a striking distance of the lady success and finally have the great fall from heavens ala Adam from Milton’s epic “Paradise Lost”. Who bothers about the Gauri bhayas of this world who counsel people at their tea stalls offering tea to laadlas and selling pakodas after failing to make it monumental in the premier services. While Manoj was twice bitten in this snake and ladder services first at the preliminary stage and the second time at the mains exam there are many like me who don’t make it even after appearing in the interview. I am sure there are thousands across the country and hundreds in this part of the world to move from significance to insignificance as they can not score the cut off marks in the aggregate, unnecessary to mention missed by how many. Those who have qualified Civil Service Mains all know it takes some doing to crack this descriptive examination. 12th Fail movie too touches upon the strenuousness of the Mains examination which is beyond the rote learning stage of prelims. Ironically, IAS or KAS Mains qualifier is no qualification once you are bitten by this three phased civil services examination even at the culminating stage.
There are no Shraddhas to propose marriages to the failures after interview. It is a descent from proverbial fire into the frying pan. Nor any Pritam Pandeys to take you to metropolitan cities to restart from zero. The only path left for many of us is obscurity.
In a small place like Kashmir you have a dingy existence once you fall from skies. As a ward of illiterate parents, by the time I knew what civil services examination calls for I just had two chances to make it before exceeding the age limit. There are many stories of failure like me who are not even taken as seriously as Gauri Bhayas to counsel others to be the white tigers of all those herds of cattle who aspire to crack civil services. Where will the other Gauri Bhayas go? Ask those who have been there done that and returned a spent-force, doomed to insignificance like Thomas Hardy’s Jude the obscure.
12th Fail narrative is resonating everywhere but civil services interview fail narrative doesn’t even get an audience. The current government has shown the will to do away with an age old baneful practice of interviews after written examination for the junior level posts or what we call non-gazetted posts. It will be a great boon to many civil services aspirants who fail in interview to be awarded some merit points so that they get absorbed in the gazetted or non-gazetted level examinations after losing out on age or any other criteria in the civil services examination. The idea is to give due regard to the ground that the aspirants cover upto the third phase and suddenly one failure turns their world upside down. The current dispensation has on many occasions expressed the will to bring reforms; this measure to accommodate the civil service left-outs could prove to be a gamechanger in this snake and ladder game which bites more in life than in reel.
Movies are there to make money, apart from it, if they narrate the story of the unheard lot, it is a service to society. It could be a great service to the nation if people at the helm ponder over the untrodden issues, the issues which the biopics themselves hide underneath the sub-thematic layers and very often die because for the want of notice. In the frenzy of one success story let us not forget many stories of failure which 12th Fail had no room to talk about but all the more deserve our recognition.
By Altaf Khan
Altaf Ahmad Khan, Mass Communication pass out from Kashmir University