To be fair, Chalk & Duster, starring Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla, is a well-intentioned film that appears to have its heart in the right place. It makes an impassioned plea to accord more respect and dignity to our teachers. But it does so through a combination of an outdated, amateurish script and shrill TV-soap treatment that you thought you’d seen the last of in the 80s. 

Shabana is Maths teacher Vidya Sawant, and Juhi is science ma’am Jyoti Thakker, both beloved, committed educators at the modest Kantaben High School which is ruled with an iron fist by Cruella de Vil principal Kamini Gupta, played by Divya Dutta sporting an oversized wig and modeling what appears to be a whole range of Air India’s airhostess uniforms. Determined to torture the faculty until they resign so she can recruit stylish professors in their place, Kamini indulges in petty politics like doing away with teachers’ chairs so they have to take classes standing up.
It’s all a part of her shrewd plan to turn the school into a hip, international institution where celebrity kids can attend class. She’s hatched it in connivance with a greedy trustee (a hamming Arya Babbar) who wants to compete with the area’s top school, run by an old rival (Jackie Shroff). 
The film’s dialogues are a laundry list of howlers; no wonder it’s hard to take the characters or the drama very seriously. Kamini sacks Vidya on false charges of incompetence, then addresses the faculty to say: “She was a question mark on the reputation of this school. And I hate question marks. I like full-stops.” How do you keep a straight face through stuff like this?
It’s a shame because some things in the film do work. By taking us into Vidya’s and Jyoti’s homes and introducing us to their families, director Jayant Gilatar gives us a strong sense of who these women are outside their classrooms, and what grounds them. These interludes, however, are brief, as Vidya’s dismissal and subsequent heart attack turn the melodrama meter up.
It all blows up when a TV reporter (played sincerely by Richa Chaddha) brings media attention to the harassment, and Jyoti turns crusader to get Vidya justice. In what has got to be the most exhausting, overlong climax ever, cameo-ing star Rishi Kapoor proceeds to host a 20-minute KBC-style quiz show that’ll decide the fate of the two teachers. 
By this point Chalk & Duster, its noble intentions notwithstanding, has turned into a real slog. I was ready to sprint for the exit just so I didn’t have to endure another minute of this sloppy, misguided movie. Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla’s charming presence and sincere performances aside, this could well turn out to be one of the year’s most forgettable films. 
I’m going with one-and-a-half out of five.

Did you like this blog?*
How did you find this blog?*
What kind of articles would you like to read on the blog?*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of A Bad Moms Christmas

    What’s more disturbing than the idea of three young moms behaving irresponsibly? Well, you’re about to find out in A Bad Moms...

    BMS EditorNovember 11, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Qarib Qarib Singlle

    Qarib Qarib Singlle, starring Irrfan Khan and Parvathy, revisits that familiar premise of a romance kindled over a road trip. To...

    BMS EditorNovember 11, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Thor: Ragnarok

    Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Anthony Hopkins, Karl Urban Director: Taika Waititi At...

    BMS EditorNovember 3, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Ittefaq

    Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Sonakshi Sinha, Akshaye Khanna Director: Abhay Chopra Watching Ittefaq, you’re instantly reminded just how good an actor Akshaye Khanna is. He...

    BMS EditorNovember 3, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Rukh

    Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Smita Tambe, Adarsh Gourav, Kumud Mishra Director: Atanu Mukherjee The new Manoj Bajpayee starrer Rukh is a story about letting go of...

    BMS EditorOctober 27, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Jia Aur Jia

    Cast: Kalki Koechlin, Richa Chadda, Arslan Goni, Sudhanshu Pandey Director: Howard Rosemeyer Any promise that Jia aur Jia may have held of taking a fresh,...

    BMS EditorOctober 27, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Secret Superstar

    Lost in her own thoughts during an English class, a distracted student is pulled up by the teacher and caned when...

    BMS EditorOctober 20, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Golmaal Again

    I suppose it’s true: film critics are entirely unreasonable people. After endlessly complaining that the last two “Golmaal” films were like...

    BMS EditorOctober 20, 2017
  • Rajeev Masand’s Review of Tu Hai Mera Sunday

    Cast: Barun Sobti, Shahana Goswami, Vishal Malhotra, Avinash Tiwary, Nakul Bhalla, Jay Upadhyay Director: Milind Dhaimade Sunday is just one of those days of...

    BMS EditorOctober 6, 2017

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2017 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Subscribe to our email newsletter today to receive updates on the latest news!
Thank You For Subscribing To Us!

Now get regular updates on the latest entertainment news and style trends.

Providing you with the best of Bollywood, Hollywood, style and more.
Get the best in entertainment, while keeping yourself entertained!
We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
Don't miss out. Subscribe today.
WordPress Popup