Chalk N’ Duster review: Nothing rescues this Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi film

Chalk N’ Duster review: It is a subject that deserves a great deal of attention, but not in the way this Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi film does it.

Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Written by Shubhra Gupta | New Delhi | Updated: January 15, 2016 12:44 pm
Chalk N’ Duster, Chalk N’ Duster review, Chalk N’ Duster movie review, Chalk N’ Duster film reviewm juhi chawla, shabana azmi Chalk N’ Duster review: It is a subject that deserves a great deal of attention, but not in the way this Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi film does it.

That education should not be a business is something we all believe in. We also know just exactly how much the lure of filthy lucre has driven teaching, the noblest profession, into a corner : the `good’ teachers who want to selflessly impart knowledge are getting scarcer, and the `bad’ guys with calculators and power point presentations are taking over.

It is a subject that deserves a great deal of attention, but not in the way ‘Chalk N’ Duster’ does it. The treatment is amateurish in the extreme, reducing the conflict to good teachers vs greedy gobblers of money and fame. Kantaben School, run by the just principal (Zarina Wahab) sees a hostile take-over by a `desi’ scheming Cruela De Vil-type togged out in designer saris and a permanent snarl ( Dutta). The teachers who are there because they love what they do, especially the middle-aged maths teacher (Shabana Azmi) and the younger, chirpier teacher of science (Juhi Chawla) and the other like-minded people are left stranded. The rest of it pans out exactly as we expect it to, minus subtleties or nuance, plus heavy-handed sanctimony.

Which is a pity, because these are all good actresses, and it is so difficult to have women in a film doing something meaningful, other than singing and dancing and playing second fiddle. In the second half, both Chawla and Azmi’s characters get the chance to be emotional and tug at our heart-strings. When they are on screen, we stay watching even when the situations and dialogues are wince-making. Dutta, who is usually so reliable, is reduced to a one-dimensional evil schemer. And Chaddha shows up as a bustling crusading TV journalist who goes where the cause is, both on the street and in the studio.

Rajkumar Hirani’s ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ still remains the go-to film on how the educational system is going down the drain, and what we can do to save it. But nothing rescues this one, not Jackie Shroff nor Rishi Kapoor (in bit parts), nor the sprightly ladies, despite their game attempts.

One and a half stars.

Star Cast: Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Arya Babbar, Zarina Wahab, Jackie Shroff, Rishi Kapoor
Director : Jayant Gilatar

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  1. A
    Jan 8, 2017 at 7:58 pm
    I was moved when teacher were asked to teach standing in cl room and they showed their dedication towards their profession well directed hats off for the director too
    1. J
      Jiya chheda
      Mar 22, 2016 at 10:48 am
      In this movie my two friends are there in dance "Tvisha Bengali " and " Reeva . They both are in my school "Holy Angel's School"
      1. S
        Sophie gendy
        Jan 15, 2016 at 2:51 pm
        It's a beautiful movie. I love Juhi chawla.
        1. S
          Saurabh b
          Feb 19, 2016 at 1:19 am
          Ver very very very nice movie. Dear indian express team and those who have issues with this movie like ndtvmovies etc etc pls excuse and watch your reviews..
          1. A
            Jan 16, 2016 at 10:44 pm
            I just watched this movie and found its great movie. As for this article, I think its biased article. Story and direction of movie is good. I didn’t watch movie because of Actresses who with due respect still are gorgeous as like morning sunlight while it’s sunset. I watched because this movie really reflects our education system. SO dear IndiaExpress you really need to review your articles and Headlines for such movies.
            1. A
              Ashish Tandon
              Jan 20, 2016 at 3:39 pm
              A very relevant movie better than the many por winners at the hustings. The movie may be amateurish but so is much of indian cinema and makes its point in the old Hrishikesh Mukherji mould. Enjo the terrific performances from the leading ladies ably supported by the supplementary cast of some good artistes. Quite a shame that when good meaningful cinema is offered the public is not coming forward to support it. If a movie makes an emotional connect it has to be good and this one surely does. Great way to start the new year.
              1. A
                Mar 21, 2016 at 10:56 am
                Movies which have no story-line,stupid un-situational songs etc end up having 3-5 ratings.This movie was much better than all other recent releases. But because It would not have attracted people to cinemas initially making it not successful in terms of revenue does not mean its not a good movie.Be honest TIE.
                1. D
                  Dr. Neera
                  Jan 22, 2016 at 10:56 am
                  i watched this movie yesterday and i found it to be a worth watching movie. shabana and juhi have done good jobs. may be movie having some shortcomings but the message is clear and intense.ten questions of quizz in the last were amazing and knowledge enhancing.
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