How Manoj Kumar Sharma, who inspired Vikrant Massey's ‘12th Fail’, went from driving a tempo to an IPS officer

How Manoj Kumar Sharma, who inspired Vikrant Massey's ‘12th Fail’, went from driving a tempo to an IPS officer

How Manoj Kumar Sharma, who inspired Vikrant Massey's ‘12th Fail’, went from driving a tempo to an IPS officer

On 29 December 2023, the critically-acclaimed film, 12th Fail, directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and starring Vikrant Massey made its way to the OTT platform and since then has amassed an even bigger fan following. In fact, in the three days post its release on OTT, it became the most-watched film on the platform.

But did you know that the character played by Massey in the movie 12th Fail is inspired by a real-life character?

For those who don’t know and are yet to view the cinematic wonder, here’s the real-life story of IPS officer Manoj Kumar Sharma, on whom the movie is based on.

Early life of Manoj Kumar Sharma

A resident of Morena district of Madhya Pradesh, Sharma was born in 1977 in a small village known as Bilgaon. According to a report by the DNA, his father was employed in the Department of Agriculture, and the family was struggling financially.

It is said that Sharma as a young boy was not academically inclined, earning only a third division in Class IX and X. In Class XII, however, Sharma failed all the subjects, except Hindi. However, it was during this time that he fell in love, changing the course of his life.

Sharma fell in love with Shraddha Joshi and it was his love for her that ultimately changed his life’s direction. Initially, he didn’t propose to Joshi owing to his failure in the Class XII examinations. However, after giving it much thought, he proposed to Joshi, who surprisingly accepted his proposal. A News18 report says that when he proposed, he had said, “If you say yes, then I will turn the world around.”

A tough path to success

Intent on winning her over, Sharma started preparing for the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examinations in order to make something of his life. However, this decision of his wasn’t smooth-sailing.

To pay his fees for the exams and prep involved, Sharma took on all types of jobs. From driving a tempo to walking dogs for the rich in Delhi, he did it all. At one point, he also slept on the streets of Delhi.

Vikrant Massey has earned critical acclaim for playing the reel life of Manoj Kumar Sharma, the IPS officer who defied all odds. Image Courtesy: @ManojSharmaIPS/X

Sharma also worked as a peon in a library in Delhi – something he says helped him in his preparation for the UPSC exams and also to instil the spirit of never giving up. In fact, he’s been quoted as saying that in the library, he read about the books and personalities of many famous writers from Maxim Gorky and Abraham Lincoln to poet Gajanan Madhav Muktibodh and it was after this that he understood the meaning of life and hard work.

And giving up, it seemed wasn’t in Sharma’s vocabulary. Despite failing the UPSC CSE exam three times, he continued to persevere only to find success in his fourth attempt. He managed to crack the exam with an All India Rank (AIR) of 121 and became an IPS officer.

Today, Manoj Kumar Sharma serves as Additional Commissioner in Mumbai Police and is also known in the force as Singham and Simba owing to his domineering style. Moreover, he’s married the love of his life – Shraddha Joshi, who is an IRS officer.

A real Bollywood romance

In fact, Sharma’s love story with Joshi is nothing short of a Bollywood romance. Sharma claims that if it wasn’t for Joshi, his life wouldn’t have been the way it is and says that despite them being diametrically opposite, their love triumphed all.

In an interview to Lallantop, Sharma said that he always believed that one “cannot live without love”. Describing the first time he met her, Sharma said that he was enamoured by her name only. An Indian Express report quotes him as saying, “Ek toh naam Shraddha, uppar se sheher Almora (One she is Shraddha, and second, she comes from a city called Almora). That day only I felt that there is something special about her.”

Manoj Kumar Sharma attributes the success in his life to his wife, Shraddha Joshi, who is a IRS officer. Image Courtesy: @ManojSharmaIPS/X

Speaking of his courtship of Joshi, he said that he also learnt how to make tea, as she hailed from the mountains, and people who live in the hills have a fondness for tea. “Shraddha’s life depends on tea, pahaadi aadmi ko sote samay bhi chai chahiye aur uthte samay bhi (A person who belongs to the mountains wants tea when he sleeps and wakes up). So, I was like let’s learn how to make tea,” said Manoj in the same Lallantop interview.

Joshi, an IRS officer and currently involved in the Tourist Department of Maharashtra, has also said that her life was very different from Sharma’s. In the Lallantop interview, she said, “I come from the hills of Uttarakhand where people have not seen guns. On the other hand, at our wedding people were seen walking around with Dunali’s (double-barrelled shotguns) and firing shots in the air.”

Sharma’s struggles and determination are indeed worthy of a film. Even Massey, who played Sharma in the now-critically acclaimed film, said that the character still resonates with him. Speaking to ANI, he said, “With Manoj Kumar Sharma, there were moments when Vinod sir would call a cut and I would continue weeping even after the cut is called because I just could not control myself.”

With inputs from agencies