Verdict: A dramatic tussle between principles and power.
Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.
— Jacques Barzun
Chalk N Duster shows us this lost tradition, as is, in our country. Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla are the stars of Chalk N Duster and they do not disappoint, but the real hero of the film is its story. The film shows us the friction between teaching as a noble profession and teaching as a business. The friction between teachers and management; between principles and power.
Kamini Gupta (Divya Dutta) plays the antagonist who defies orders given by Principal Mrs. Shastri (Zarina Wahab) and likes to have the upper hand over other teachers. She manipulates the management and the owner’s son played by Arya Babbar to become the Principal of the school by promising them the coveted top rank for the school. Soon after, things change. She harasses the teachers and makes their lives increasingly difficult. The burden and toil begin to take a toll and the cracks begin to show. An elderly teacher, Vidya Sawant (Shabana Azmi) finds herself caught up in this web of deceit and deception. The happy-go-lucky, multi-talented teacher, Jyoti Thakur (Juhi Chawla) supports and stands by her. She approaches the media and what follows is their quest and fight against Kamini and the management.
The director gives us glimpses of the teachers’ family lives. He show us the simple lives they lead and how happiness is best found with families. Samir Soni and Girish Karnad play the husbands of Jyoti and Vidya, respectively. Their relationships are beautifully sketched. Jackie Shroff, Richa Chadda and Rishi Kapoor play small roles but put up fine performances.
The film’s story is simple yet powerful. Execution is where things disappoint. Chalk N Duster falls prey to many predictable dialogues and clichés. The film really picks up pace in the last fifteen minutes, which keep the audience entertained.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
Chalk N Duster picks a topic rarely explored by the film industry and shows the Indian education system in its current form. Watch it to get on a nostalgia trip remembering your teachers as well be presented with the reality of the education system today.