Education and issues related to it have always been a hot topic of discussion in this country. Attempting to give this often – debated subject a fresh lease of life is Jayant Gilatar’s recent film, Chalk N Duster. The film tries to provide a fresh take on education and leaves us with some fodder to ponder on. Chalk N Duster is the story of two selfless, passionate teachers and their fight against the corrupt management of the school who are money – driven as opposed to merit – driven. Here’s an eye-opener on issues that have been plaguing our system since a while – be it the corporatization of education or the plight of underpaid and overworked teachers. Director Jayant believes “After our parents, there is only person that guides us and that is our teacher, it is our guru who grooms us. And the respect for this fraternity was fading, and that served as an inspiration for me”.

The film starts with an uplifting scene of the annual day function preparations, which sets the ball rolling and excites you to know what lies ahead.

The movie features a stellar cast including veterans such as Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla and Girish Karnad, aptly supported by remarkable actors like Richa Chadha and Divya Dutta among others. Jayant says, “I always wanted Shabana Azmi for the character of Vidya Sawant. I’d decided that only if Shabana Azmi said yes would I do this film. If she were to say no, I would not have done the film.” And the result of his conviction is for all to see.  We get to see a convincing mathematics teacher from a middle-class background with a happy family life. Shabana Azmi and Juhi Chawla share a warm and emotional bond on – screen and beautifully compliment each others acting prowess. Divya Dutta and Richa Chadha too have done complete justice to their respective parts.

Chalk N Duster

Chalk N Duster

The music of the film has some melodious notes. A jingle dedicated to Algebra makes for a fun song. When asked about idea behind the music the director says “I told the music composer that I wanted this one song that would become an anthem for every school function. And one school from Mumbai has actually taken the audio from us and plan to use the song”.

While the story may touch a few chords, the execution of the film doesn’t hit the nail on the head. The cinematography turns up as inconsistent and patchy. It has an overly dramatic narrative approach, which results in cliché dialogues and a predictable story line. You see a hat and hope that the magician doesn’t pull out a rabbit, but that is exactly what happens, instead of something new. The fresh subject fails in its treatment and even the good performances cannot do much for it.

The film does have some pleasant moments that almost engage you and more so if you belong to the teaching fraternity. A thoughtworthy message that could have gone a long way if only handled in a better manner.

-Kiran Dave


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