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CHALK N DUSTER - Shabana, Zareena, Juhi, Divya, Richa and Upasana together in a film about the role of TEACHERS in our life. Certainly a big reason to give this honest film a deserving chance. (Review By Bobby Sing)

15 Jan, 2016 | Movie Reviews / 2016 Releases

Chalk N Duster

As an interesting co-incidence, where 2015 began with a well-intentioned film TAKE IT EASY focusing on the stressed life of school kids and the role of parents in it creating some serious issues, 2016 begins with a similar message oriented film CHALK N DUSTER focusing on the stressed life of school teachers and their relationship with the students as well as the management - more interested in money instead of education. So where TAKE IT EASY dealt with psychological and emotional aspect of the subject, CHALK N DUSTER refers to the ethical and business aspect of the same involving the political as well as corporate section of the society revealing an ugly truth.
The second similarity between the two films remains that both the appreciable ventures are impressive and tacky in parts together, having some highly emotional sequences too making you feel for the key protagonists on screen playing all realistic characters.
And unfortunately, the third similarity is, that neither TAKE IT EASY was seen by a big section of viewers, nor CHALK N DUSTER is likely to reach its actual target audience due to several debatable issues related with our personal choice of cinema, the blind (male) star-following and step-treatment of the exhibitors given to such sincere attempts.
Talking about CHALK N DUSTER individually, here is a film that has everything right and touching as far as its core important subject and leading performances are concerned. But the film certainly could have been much more impressive and moving with a better second half and another novel culmination instead of the lengthy clichéd climax showcasing a ‘KBC’ kind of quiz show hosted by Rishi Kapoor (playing a cameo).
It begins well with all decent sequences introducing a great cast ensemble of talented ladies namely Shabana Azmi, Zareena Wahab, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Richa Chadha and Upasana Singh. The pace never drops before intermission and you enjoy watching the clashes between its strong characters heading towards a loud volcanic outcome in the later reels. Plus the peak is rightly felt as Richa Chadha makes her entry as a journalist just along the text displayed on screen saying RECESS referring to the interval.
However, things do not turn out to be exciting enough as expected in the film’s second half, in absence of any skillful execution and novel story progression making way for all routine seen before stuff instead of the much expected volcanic eruption in the heated clashes. The pace drops and the sequences turn out to be nothing fresh with a more than 15 minutes long climax as mentioned above. Yet, thankfully the spirit remains the same as in the beginning and an extremely touching emotional quotient doesn’t let you feel any repulsion watching the end proceedings probably with all moist eyes. Moreover such is the pull in all those rare facts shared in its finale that you remain engrossed throughout, despite knowing the truth that it’s all going to end in the same predictable manner with the obvious win. For instance, the questions asked include, what is the meaning of KAUR used in Sikhism, what are the full forms of YAHOO & GOOGLE, what BRUCE LEE did in the initial stages of his career and more.
As the two leading teachers, both Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla excel as true teachers along with Zareena Wahab and Upasana Singh doing complete justice with their given characters as required. Divya Dutta playing the negative role does it well (without any actual depth given by the writers) but Richa Chadha is shockingly wasted in a role that could have been done by anyone with a pretty face (which is quite a shame!). In the male leads once again we have Jackie Shroff simply doing nothing significant in his few scenes and Aryan Babbar also remaining under-utilized as the partner in crime with Divya, whereas Rishi Kapoor is fine in his surprising cameo towards the end.
In totality, CHALK N DUSTER is an appreciable yet uneven project from director Jayant Gilatar. It has a decent camerawork, just okay dialogues but an interesting background score demanding attention at times. Besides I really liked the way the composer and sound designer treated the voice in songs describing the importance A GURU in our life using traditional verses. As per its script, the brief references of a teacher’s personal life post the school hours work well whereas the clichéd melodrama around the illness and the finale quiz doesn’t, that could have been dealt differently.
Having said that, there still cannot be any denial to the fact that this honest effort surely deserves to be applauded (to a large extent) ignoring all it’s the major hiccups and average insertions, as (nowadays) Hindi Cinema rarely gets into such educating, realistic mode talking about our basic social problems and lack of moral values.
As an important film CHALK N DUSTER brings forward a scary issue wherein we are not actually taking good care of the most crucial and guiding figures of our lives, our school teachers displaying a flawed vision. The corporates are clearly considering ‘Education’ as another profit-oriented industry instead of a nation-building exercise and the teachers are openly treated as easily replaceable clerks without any individual importance or a contributing value. Hence serving its purpose well, CHALK N DUSTER works at many levels giving a significant message and with such an inviting cast ensemble of all extremely talented ladies, its surely deserves to be given a chance by the thinking viewers.
But concluding the review with another bitter truth about our Indian Education System and the profession of teachers at school level (in all metro cities), the problem also needs to be studied from another bigger yet ‘not talked about’ angle too which is alarmingly dangerous and critical for the coming generations.
Revealing this hard to accept truth, since last few decades we are ourselves treating ‘Teaching’ as ‘the most doable’ & ‘last resort job’ for the ladies (specifically) without any strong heartfelt passion to contribute in thousands of young lives as a valuable ‘Guru’. In other words, with mostly women working in the schools as teachers at various levels, we are not actually having ‘passionate Gurus’ but just degree holders who have simply joined a school job, because the working hours (from 7am to 2pm) is much more compatible for a married woman in comparison to a 9-to-6 job in any usual office.
So they are not teachers because they wished to be a teacher since a kid.
But they are teachers because this job gives them ample time to look after their families at home and its much less interfering than another fulltime profession taking up the complete day.
To give you another harsh example, if you study a case of a decent family looking for a girl for their young bachelor working boy, then a candidate working as a school-teacher is sure to be given preference to another working in a regular office despite earning more than the teacher. Now here the preference is not at all for any ‘noble profession’ but its for the ‘job hours’ which actually seem to be less demanding and interfering in comparison.
Hence, whether anyone likes to accept it or not but this ‘time compatibility with family or kids’ is one of the biggest reason, we are not having GREAT TEACHERS who have seriously joined an educational institute with a passion to enlighten several young souls, but mostly ‘Yes Sayers’ who are more worried about their jobs/regular income than anything else. As a result you don’t really find them having a spine to stand against the cruel management or directors, fast turning the ‘Noble Profession’ into a ‘Profitable Business’ or ‘an Industry’.
Therefore, it is to be understood that the damage is being done from both the sides in reality with money becoming the only target for a big section of teachers as well as the management & board of directors, forgetting everything about the innocent children and their uncertain future.
If possible do give it a thought with this new ‘eye-opener’ angle too and discuss it with all teachers in your family as a contributing move, along with watching the film before its taken off the theaters in the next few days.
Rating : 3 / 5

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15 Jan 2016 / Comment ( 2 )
Very good film with brilliant performances. Perfect tribute to our Teachers. A Must-Watch film in today\'s times when we are so busy with out fast paced lives that we have forgotten to thank our teachers who actually laid our foundations.
Bobby Sing

Thanks a lot for appreciating the film in the right spirit Jai Shah ji,

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