The Success Story of a 12th Fail Written by: Anonymous
"Success is not final. Failure is not fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts."— Winston Churchill
Whether or not Winston Churchill is a quotable man, is a debate for another day. There is, however, something about this quote that speaks to the resilience that we have to develop in the face of failure — an almost persistent stubbornness and 'delusion' about the conviction of good things happening to us that I think is based in tawakkul (complete trust in Allah SWT) and qadr (Allah's SWT decree). Having watched 12th Fail twicerecently, I am reminded again and again of this quote and the idea that no matter how much we think a failure on our record is fatal or permanent, there is so much life and so many experiences that we are yet to transform through and grow from.
12th Failis a Bollywood movie based on the true story of Manoj Kumar Sharma, assayed by Vikrant Massey and his journey to becoming an IPS officer in India, which is an extremely rigorous and competitive process. His story begins with his life in a small village where the teachers and village leaders plot together to help the students cheat and pass their final exams so that they can improve the village's literacy rate. He, himself, writes out several cheat sheets in preparation for this exam but this well-thought out conspiracy is foiled by an honest and diligent officer whose stature and power impress Manoj. From the officer, Manoj learns that if he wants to accomplish anything in his life, he must give up cheating and he does. He fights through all the challenges and hurdles that life throws at him, braves with courage the hardships he faces and masters the art of diligence and resilience.
It might feel strange to read about a Bollywood movie and non-Muslim characters on a Muslim blog but there were so many lessons that are relevant to us as students as we pursue our academic journeys that I found it important to share these reminders with our community.
There is a point in the movie where Manoj is at a crossroads and his last attempt of achieving his goal and he gets asked what he will do if he fails even on his last attempt as that would indicate that his dream of becoming an IPS officer would falter. He very wisely and brilliantly replies that the goal was never to become an IPS officer, that was just the path he chose to eliminate corruption and cheating in his village because he was inspired by the command that officer had through his position. What a beautiful way to cope with the rejections, failures and hardships that grace our path — to see them as redirections and as means to an end. If we place our trust in Allah SWT, we can see the falling apart as an indication of falling into place where He so chooses to place us.
Another lesson I learnt from Manoj was to keep your friends close on your journey. They are the ones who celebrate your achievements as their own, who add joy to your happiness, who partake in your blessings and who ensure that you are not alone in the hurdles that come on your path. There are several scenes where Manoj almost gives up hope, calls it quits and forsakes his Personal Legend but then his friends step in and rekindle his passion for his path.
At the same time, this gruelling, heart-exhausting energy that is required to endure the obstacles of our destiny reminds me of the fulfillment of Allah's SWT qadr whereby no matter how much we try to let things go, or get things done, they will not happen until Allah SWT says "kun fayakun" (Be, and it is). This became especially salient for me as I became skeptical of my journey in my program, feeling out of place, unsure, not getting the grades I worked so hard for and doubting my choices. I then turned to Manoj's example and resonated with the idea that Allah SWT is the one writing our destiny and that He has intended the best for us in all of our endeavours; that there is purpose in this placement and it is my job to be grateful, work hard and let the path unfold itself to me.
There are plenty of lessons and things to celebrate in this warm, artistic film that touches so close to the human heart and sentiments. May Allah SWT ensure our semester is a smashing success across all disciplines and fields and trajectories. Ameen!