Chalk N Duster Hindi Movie Review

Feature Film | U
Although the movie has been made with the right premise in mind, and has an enviable cast, the shoddy execution makes it a terrible watch. You sit through it because it means well.
Jan 15, 2016 By Manisha Lakhe

That education is mostly business today, is a fact accepted by parents, who pay ridiculous fees in the name of facilities that kids barely use, for an education that claims to be modern.

Chalk N Duster is set in a school where the teachers are genuinely wonderful and have been teaching diligently for years. An ambitious and unscrupulous new principal (Divya Dutta in a surprisingly mean role) decides to change things so she can win favors with the school management. She increases the school fees so only the rich kids can afford to come to school, and decides to sack teachers who are older so they can be replaced by younger, prettier teachers who would cost much less than the experienced teachers.

What follows is a horrendous in-your-face tactics shoddily executed. The teachers are made to teach standing up for hours together (their chairs are removed), so the older teachers then are shown to struggle to walk from the classroom to the teacher's lounge. They are made to pay for their cup of tea. They are abused and insulted by a stooge of the principal. The principal speaks to the teachers so rudely, you would think the filmmakers were inspired by really undignified uncouth women fighting in the market by pulling at each other's hair, instead of people who belong to the noblest profession.

Of course a beloved math teacher (Shabana Azmi) is abused and sacked summarily, and suffers a heart attack. Her fellow science teacher and friend (Juhi Chawla) takes up the cause against the principal and loses her job too because other teachers are too scared to speak up and need their salaries...

You'd think the end was near when of course media shows up (thanks to the rival school head Jackie Shroff making a phone call!) in the shape of Richa Chadda, who makes it a TV debate. That's when you realize you are rooted to your chair with horror. One after the other old students (doctors, pilots and even deputy head of NASA, if you please) send in video endorsements that the two sacked teachers were the best ever. An outlandish scheme is proposed and a live TV quiz contest is organized where the two sacked teachers are tested.

No. It doesn't take a genius to know that the teachers win and the bad principal has to apologize.

The movie means well. But the mix of melodrama and awful writing is unpalatable even for the most forgiving audience. You might want to watch it when it comes on television on teacher's day or something. Maybe not.

Manisha Lakhe