Chalk N Duster Movie Review



The director’s heart bleeds for ill-treated teachers. Nothing wrong with that. But is it good enough?

For intention, Chalk N Duster might get full marks, but the execution is so hopelessly ham-fisted that the film can only be described as an absolute botch-up.

Jayant Gilatar’s approach to filmmaking and storytelling is clearly governed by the ‘anything goes’ principle. Not surprisingly, it yields pathetically slender pickings.

It goes the whole nine yards to show us how abysmal our education system is, but Chalk N Duster does no justice to either cinema or to the cause of the noble profession that it attempts to celebrate.

Shrill, slight and sanctimonious, the film is about a pair of teachers who, after being subjected to a great deal of harassment, turns the tables on an insensitive management.

The men and women who mould the minds of the young have a low status in this country despite all the talk about India’s glorious guru-shishya tradition.

Chalk N Duster takes over two patience-trying hours to make that point with the aid of stilted dialogue and utterly vacuous scenes.

The film presses into service all the cliches in the book, including a heart attack brought on by a harsh decision and a live make-or-break television quiz show. If the idea is to whip up some drama, it is totally misdirected.

Silly and stupid are the only adjectives that come to mind as the mawkish Chalk N Duster unfolds, with the likes of Rishi Kapoor (as the quizmaster) and Jackie Shroff (as a school owner who believes education is a mission and not a business) being reduced to sorry butts of ridicule.

The film’s cast also has Girish Karnad in the role of the chess-loving, wheelchair-bound husband of an altruistic math teacher who devotes her free hours to educating financially disadvantaged children.

It is unlikely that the veteran actor has ever been part of a less worthy film.

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