wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
- meeta, a part of the audience
Chalk N Duster comes across as a personal film. As in the writer/director/producer has either had a teacher in his life who he wanted to pay a tribute to or know of a teacher or two who have been insulted by the people who make education a business. The unempathatic attitude towards teachers in general is attacked with single-minded focus. While not a bad premise in itself, the discrepancies within the theme and real life are too large to stop nagging for even one minute of the film.
The film is set in a private school where real-life teachers are treated much better than the way shown in the film. The issues of the teachers in government schools are not addressed at all. Which is alright, if the story is about a private school. But then, it doesn't stay a story of a private school but becomes one in which the common man gets involved and there is huge drama with teachers having to take a test.
I haven't been able to wrap my head around the logical flow of the premise though. If the matter is of national interest, it is a social issue. If the issue is social, then the representative example used to resemble something in real life. In which case, a private school with ample funding doesn't fit the bill. Here we completely ignore the fact that most real-life teachers aren't really great teachers. This is also the opportune place to mention the irony of the 'and' in the film's title being spelt as 'n'. Is that the makers' way of saying their methods are not outdated?
As with any movie that doesn't make logical sense, you accept the premise and focus on the execution. There too Chalk N Duster fails big time. Too much time is spent in coloring the vamp darker and darker. Even if we resist complaining about the time spent in making the victimized teachers good at heart and loving by nature, the mechanisms used to demonstrate these are sappy and unengaging.
Despite all of the above, the film manager to tug you emotionally for a bit in the second half. When villains are all black, they have to be menacing and capable of all things inhuman. Divya Dutt as the principal, Kamini Sharma manages to make you hate her within the first few seconds of screen time. Similarly, Shabana Azmi evokes enough sympathy to root for her character, Mrs. Sawant. So restrained is her performance in a role that could have been laden with drama that Juhi Chawla's controlled (non-shrieking), Jyoti.
This is all soon undone with a ridiculous climax. To start with, it reinforces the Indian education system's obsession with rote learning. Then there's testing the teacher's knowledge instead of teaching skills. Lastly, the concept itself is too lame for the amount of buildup towards the climax.
Save a few good performances then, Chalk N Duster is just another story about honest, diligent workers vs. big, bad management; about the common man vs. the system. Other than the 'education' angle there is nothing new, which is a shame because this angle actually has a lot of scope to be novel. Especially when it was in the capable hands of Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla and Divya Dutta.
- meeta, a part of the audience
Thumbs up, by Gayatri Gauri, FirstPost : ...The very fact that we have a decent, heartwarming story with three women, who are neither glamorous or young — playing central characters — is reason enough to applaud Chalk n Duster. More power to middle aged heroines who deserve as much screen space as the 50-year-olds Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Divya Solgama, Star Blockbuster : ...On an overall basis, ‘Chalk N Duster’ is a decent film narrating a soulful lesson. Despite of its tacky presentation and outdated looks, the movie will be still cherished by the feel good type of simple film lovers as it has a strong undercurrent along with few great actors and proper soul attached to it. ... full review
Thumbs up, by Shaheen Raaj, Star Blockbuster : ...Last Word: The film will pick up in the multiplexes as well as the single theatre's mainly by word of mouth publicity. - See more at: http://starblockbuster.com/chalk-n-duster-0#sthash.VIBg8Loe.dpuf... full review
So-So, by Kusumita Das, Deccan Chronicle : ...A little more finesse could have helped Chalk n Duster emerge a topper in the genre. With a subject like this, telling the story well was as important as telling it at all. Unfortunately, for now it better hide its report card. ... full review
So-So, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ...Written by Ranjeev and Neetu Verma, ‘Chalk N Duster’ focuses on painting a likeable picture about teachers, their tough job requirements and their ability to instill heavy doses of knowledge in their wards. And the bad guys are villains of the piece. There’s not much reason for their contrariness and their humaneness is totally wiped clean. ... full review
So-So, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...Go watch CHALK N DUSTER. Like I said, inspite of its obvious flaws, it's still worth a watch. The quiz round towards the end is quite entertaining with his suspense. The scenes where Vidya teaches with care and concern in school and her neighbourhood are enlightening. Juhi Chawla as her solid friend is endearing. And although the scenes where the ex-students and students in general come to the help of Vidya when she is in hospital appear over-the-top, it still manages to strike a chord in you. ... full review
So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...However, one must make a mention of a few and far in between credible scenes, including the ones between Shabana Azmi and Girish Karnad. These two great actors show us how their talent can rise above the silliest of films. ... full review
So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Director Jayant Gilatar makes a pertinent film with some crackerjack performances by the lead cast. The story and its message is a winner, but the film is technically inept, complete with the limitations of dubbed sound and abrupt cuts. ... full review
So-So, by Meena Iyer, Times of India : ...Shabana and Juhi are irritatingly saccharine initially; but get firmly in the saddle soon. They're from the dependable lot of actresses after all. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Anna MM Vetticad, annavetticadgoes2themovies : ...It is a mark of Bollywood’s extreme gender bias that the likes of Shabana and Juhi must, more often than not, compromise on quality if they wish to play heroines. These remarkable women deserve better than this clumsy, even if well-meaning, film. So does the teaching profession. ... full review
Thumbs down, by RAJEEV MASAND, IBN Live : ...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. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...Watch or Not?: Unfortunately, the film loses its focus from the main plot which is the plight of underpaid teachers with no job security and hence it offers nothing to make up for a theater watch. ... full review
Thumbs down, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...Still, if any of this helps the cause of teachers, good for Team Chalk N Duster. Where movie making is concerned, Gilatar needs to start on a clean slate. ... full review
smitenb4: "Chalk and duster"a must watch movie an eye opener to the education system n institute of today a movie for parents too
shahab39: Watched Chalk N Duster very imperesive film talking about the prrseny situation of teachetd in india
Ritchats: Chalk n Duster , simple yet very meaningful movie , must watch , real tribute to noble profession :TEACHING
ramgandhi52: Chalk n Duster -great n absorbing film /Shabana Azmi/-as always a class act.
Prateesh_Shah: #Chalk and Duster best movie 5 star,,eye opener movie# #respect teachers
iammzkhan: Chalk n duster an Amazing movie hats of to all starring individuals...... @iam_juhi
dolbhi: Chalk and Duster a tribute to the most exploited and neglected profession.High time they get the respect and care they really deserve...
dkhajuriewala: Chalk and duster superb movie...anpi nhi dekhi to jarur dekhne jaye...
beeargee: Chalk N Duster is a fresh subject and a refreshing experience. Shabana Azmi, as always , is a treat to watch! Not to be missed.
BalaShroff: "Chalk and Duster" is an excellent film. If you are fond of good cinema then don't miss this film
bafuwild: Rooting for success of Chalk n Duster!!!
AbhiramTinku: Chalk N duster, nice movie, dedicated to teachers. It is also about how management works in background.
This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.