A respectable enough idea that would make for a compelling viewing under better hands but director Jayant Gilatar’s sloppy ‘tribute’ never ever develops into anything noteworthy. Mistaking intent for quality, Chalk N Duster’s greatest drawback is that it tries to take the high moral ground without substantiating its material or projecting the least bit of depth.
What makes Chalk N Duster rise above the average is its futuristic approach. Sometimes it does seem like an application to seek favours for teachers but mostly it talks about the value of good education. Chalk N Duster is a film worth your time. It’s fast, dramatic and meaningful. Simply put, a good watch.
For intention, Chalk N Duster might get full marks, but the execution is so hopelessly ham-fisted that the film can only be described as an absolute botch-up. But Chalk N Duster is a sentence that meanders through miles of meaninglessness before it decides to draw the line. Eventually, the audience is left with a bunch of question marks. Granted that in this country teachers rarely get their due. But did they deserve this?
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. It is a subject that deserves a great deal of attention, but not in the way this Juhi Chawla, Shabana Azmi film does it.
To be fair, Chalk & Duster, starring Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla, is a well-intentioned film that appears to have its heart in the right place. It makes an impassioned plea to accord more respect and dignity to our teachers. But it does so through a combination of an outdated, amateurish script and shrill TV-soap treatment that you thought you’d seen the last of in the 80s.
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.
'Chalk N Duster' has its heart in the right place. The execution for the most part is clumsy. Yet somewhere in the second half, Gilatar redeems himself and the film. Shabana and Juhi are irritatingly saccharine initially; but get firmly in the saddle soon. They're from the dependable lot of actresses after all.