Rating: 2/5 Stars (Two stars)
Star Cast: Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi, Zarina Wahab, Divya Dutta, Jackie Shroff, Sameer Soni, Arya Babbar, Richa Chadda
Director: Jayant Gilatar
What’s Good: Chalk N Duster is a film that has its heart in the right place but lacks the necessary treatment. Power-packed performances of Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla try to keep this film afloat.
What’s Bad: Shaky camera-work, dramatic twists and soap operaish dialogues kill the purpose of this film. A pathetic climax leaves a bitter taste in your mouth for the overall film.
Loo Break: Second half would be the time!
Watch or Not?: Unfortunately, the film loses its focus from the main plot which is the plight of underpaid teachers with no job security and hence it offers nothing to make up for a theater watch.
Kantaben High School is a privately owned school which is being led by a patient principal Indu Shastri (Zarina Wahab) who cares for her teachers and their work woes. Aarya Babbar who plays a trustee of the school is slightly vampish and takes education as business. In the lieu of making his school one of the top institutes in the city, he appoints Kamini Gupta (Divya Dutta) as the principal, thus firing the respected former head Mrs. Shastri. Gupta is termed as hitler by the teachers in the staff room, thanks to her aggressive attitude. Jyoti Thakur (Juhi Chawla) and Vidya Sawant (Shabana Azmi) are two teachers in the same school who are extremely happy with their jobs until their new principal starts harassing them. Calling a senior Maths teacher Vidya’s teaching standards outdated, Gupta terminates her. This shock leads to Vidya having a heart attack.
Disgusted with Gupta’s behavior and its consequences, Jyoti stands up for her friend Vidya and even approaches the media for help.
Will Vidya and Jyoti manage to wash off their image of incompetence and bring a change in the education system is what the story further unfolds into.
Chalk N Duster Review: Script Analysis
Education system in India is quite messed up and we have seen ample of cases related to it. The film’s basic plot revolves around how teaching in spite of being one of the most respected professions has no value when it comes to monetary benefits. There is no job security for a teacher but the pressure is high enough as they have to shape the lives of tomorrow’s impressionable minds.
While on the factual side, the story of Chalk N Duster is definitely real enough, it is the dramatic treatment that hampers its message. Dialogues like ‘Mujhe question marks pasand nahi. I like full stops’ by a principal are so not ideal.
The first half still holds ground quite firmly as it builds the story towards a major twist but the second half completely shatters the film. It starts getting worse when Richa Chadda’s character enters as a News reporter. The scene is written so poorly that according to the writers, TV reporters randomly start shooting their story in hospitals without even consulting the patient and their family. A complete stereotypical take!
Coming to the climax, it was like watching a YRF film. Nothing happens in the story unless there is a competition. Two teachers who are terminated from their school turn up on a quiz show to prove their capabilities. It is a Kaun Banega Crorepati like show with Rishi Kapoor as the host. (No I’m not kidding!)
So, Chalk N Duster soon starts feeling like you were told it was a Maths class but you’re being taught History.
Chalk N Duster Review: Star Performance
Shabana Azmi does a brilliant job as a teacher who loves her job. Azmi shines in the classroom scenes where she looks extremely natural.
Juhi Chawla does a fine job too. Her camaraderie with Shabana Azmi is a delight.
Divya Dutta completely bowls you over with her performance. Her negative character is strong and she portrays a great body language for it. As the snooty principal she is bang on.
Girish Karnad is wasted in an underdeveloped role. His character of Vidya’s husband who is handicapped has little to do in the film.
Samir Soni plays Jyoti’s husband and yet again the character is extremely sketchy.
Arya Babbar plays the antagonist and well he is quite hammy in his scenes.
Jackie Shroff too has a cameo in the film and frankly it’s not even worth a mention.
Chalk N Duster Review: Music, Direction
Director Jayant Gilatar fails miserably when it comes to execution of the already weak script. The camera work is extremely shoddy and includes even grainy frames. There are random close-ups of the characters which actually seem quite disturbing to the eyes. There are even certain scenes where the dubbing is not proper. The choice of music too is quite poor and while there are not many songs the makers just ignore the need for a good background score too.
Chalk N Duster Review: The Last Word
Chalk N Duster is a dramedy that is high and on drama and some unintentional comedy. I am going with a 2/5 for the film.
Chalk N Duster Trailer
Chalk N Duster releases on 15th January, 2016.
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