This semi-true story of a young farmer who uses his grandmother’s life savings to sit police officer exams in Delhi fosters the idea that success is possible through effort alone

Perhaps it’s only an accident of scheduling, but you could read this film as a little cinematic pep talk for young people going back to education after their half-term rest. It’s certainly a warm, if sentimental, paean to the idea that success in India, despite endemic corruption and the caste system, can still be achieved through meritocratic means.

The vehicle for this is the semi-true parable of Manoj Kumar Sharma (Vikrant Massey), the middle child of a family of farmers from Chambal (a region known for its bandits, according to the voiceover narration). Oppressed by crooked local cops and a mayor who demands bribes for everything, Manoj accepts the life savings of his peppery grandmother (Sarita Joshi) to go to Delhi and take the challenging civil service exams that will allow him to become a police officer.

However, as a private coach advises a room full of aspiring students at one point, passing these exams is just like playing snakes and ladders, with one failure sending you back to the beginning and only a finite number of chances before you’re disqualified.

En route to the big city, Manoj falls asleep on the bus and loses all his money when someone steals his suitcase. At a cafe, Manoj meets fellow aspiring student Pritam Pandey (Anant Vijay Joshi). He buys him lunch and gives him a place to crash in Delhi, as they both embark on a long, arduous series of failed attempts and “restarts” – the latter term forming the refrain in a pop song that’s played throughout, in classic Indian cinema fashion.

Along the way, Manoj falls in love with the poised Shraddha (Medha Shankar), a student who gave up being a doctor when she had to treat a young girl who died from abuse, a horror that motivates Shraddha to bring abusers and the like to justice. But will her posh family accept her marrying Manoj, who at one point is forced to work in a flour mill for 15 hours a day to send money home, while he spends further six hours studying, leaving him only three hours to sleep every night?