CHALK & DUSTER & A BLANK BLACK BOARD

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Arya Babbar, Richa Chadda Zarina Wahab, Girish Karnad, Samir Soni, Jackie Shroff
Director: Jayant Gilatar

Someone gave an idea to the writer of this film, actually a very good one; we should make a film on teachers, their lives and problems, on ongoing commercialization of Indian school education. The writer simply slaughtered that idea by writing whatever this is. The writing is so immature actually it’s childish.

The subject is excellent and you can win an Oscar by doing justice to the subject. The director and producer forgot that ridiculously senseless movies which become super hits have Salman Khan in it and Salman Khan does not title his films ‘Chalk and Duster’. If you are making a film with such a title and brilliant actors(not superstars), you have to present a compelling storyline and an airtight script. A below average production quality will not matter then.

“Do you remember the name of your first teacher who taught you ABCD or table of 2? How can you forget your teachers?” asks Juhi Chawla in the film. This interview sequence is good and connects to the audience. So does Juhi’s character. She is natural and looks pretty as a teacher. Shabana Azmi is, as usual, convincing but she could do better, I know that. Both of them are sincere school teachers and loved by all. The new Principal Divya Dutta (looking embarrassingly ugly in those wigs and outfit) backed by the owner, Arya Babbar(remember? Arre Raj Babbar’s son), wants to fire all the old teachers and recruit new ones to make the school modern and suitable for rich kids. Only she and God know the logic. She fires Shabana on the charge of incompetency and this gives Shabana a heart attack (well, I am not joking. Trust me). Juhi Chawla rebels against the Principal and management and she is aided by a TV reporter played by Richa Chadda. Richa Chadda, though she has a superstar like entry, seems out of place in that makeup and the accent. Whenever she opens her mouth, it feels like the next thing she would say is “Baap ka Dada Ka, Sabka Badla Lega re mera Faizal”. I don’t know why Girish Karnad took out time for this film from his busy schedule of beef festivals.

In the climax a quiz contest is organized to be telecasted live on TV, to prove the incompetence of these two teachers. This Tamasha is organized by both the parties and has involvements of a minister and even an IAS officer. This is the point where I felt, the director has gone completely insane. Although, Rishi Kapoor, the anchor, has enjoyed a lot working with Juhi after so many years. With his every question comes a lethal blow.
To test the competency of a Math teacher and a Chemistry teacher, with several years of teaching experience, he asks questions like who is the dancer in an obscure video and what is the meaning of Dalai Lama and what is the full form of Yahoo! Etc.

I did not expect this from a film titled profoundly as ‘Chalk and Duster’ and having actors like these. Despite all its good intentions, this is a plain boring film and with sky-high ticket prices, it’s not worth your money.

I am giving it one star for our teachers.

On the way out I was thinking why can’t a Hindi Film be logical.

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