Chalk n Duster
Back to School

Ranjeev Varma

Jayant Gilatar

Movie Review
Chalk n Duster:Chalky Script

Chalk n’ Duster 
Chalky Script

One more Writing Credit – Neetu Varma

The message of the film is noble. Noblest profession of teaching be treated with respect and kept at safe distance from commerce. Great.

The set-up is a private school of Versova where teachers are being harassed by newly appointed supervisor (Divya Dutta’s Mrs. Gupta); who then has her way and even replaces the Principal. She knows the tricks of winning the management’s confidence especially Chairman’s son who has done his MBA from London. Must mention this, because it has been reiterated in the film at intervals, though there is hardly any big fascination about it these days. The way Mr. MBA behaves is too unlike even a decent graduate. He banks too much on Mrs. Gupta and blindly follows her methods without bothering to even take stocks, if not updates. Like our TV soaps, males here are mostly 'inert' elements, and females are 'noble'.. Chemistry anyone?

Desperate for their jobs – various teacher-characters have different compulsions; so they keep submitting to the sadist methods of Mrs. Principal. Till one day, when a senior Mathematics teacher Vidya (Shabana) revolts. Jyoti (Juhi Chawla) then shifts the gears and the unrest reaches media and war is out in the open..

Actors try their best to raise the power of this mathematical expression but when the base value (script) is low, a high exponent can hardly jack-up the resultant’s value. 1= 1.

The Script is kept very simplistic which makes it unconvincing. Characters behave the way the plot wants them to, instead of their natural way which maybe was by choice to keep things easy. As audience we can’t believe several things; viz. why would the management of a school doing so good for decades fall for the rosy pictures of Mrs. Gupta. Also she screwing up the school just because she is sadist; doesn’t come across as a full rounded reason. Then we don’t see any constructive measures taken by Gupta. She is either after harassing the staff, raising the fees or choosing her new fashion. This makes her character very weak, short sighted and thus kills the fun of watching the fight or conflict. Equality of opposites, is missing; especially since here we have multiple protagonists against the single antagonist.

The problem appears resolved right at PP2 when Protagonists get public support and are proved right. But still a top-up climax is stacked which takes us to a KBC type of Quiz game, another inorganic thing to happen. Why suddenly a KBC? Why ask universal GK questions to Science and Maths teachers? Are they supposed to know so tough questions of GK which are not at all connected with their subjects? If they failed in GK, does that prove they are bad subject teachers? On TV, KBC carries some intrigue because you don’t know the outcome, in the film when you know the result, the only purpose of the climax reduces to checking your GK. Finally, the top notch question that is asked comes from a widely circulated Whatsapp message. One wonders if one needs to be an encyclopaedia to be a teacher!

The first act of setting up is fair but long. The second act - media and cross rivalry; isn’t fresh. The last act of resolution through Quiz is a superfluous shocker. 

Dialogue also pinch you right from the word go when Upasana’s Manjeet seeing Gupta coming, verbalizes “Aa gayi Hitler rob jamane”, when the action was obvious. Was she trying a Gangubai or such dialogue was written? The Hitler dialogue comes at a couple of times more like London MBA. The first time London MBA comes purely as an offbeat exposition. Old Principal tells Gupta, “Chairman’s son is coming for the function, he is an MBA from London.”

Chalk n Duster is blessed with good cast who are impressive in their respective characters - even the inert males. This makes the film a good one time watch for its message and performances. Nevertheless, the Writing on the wall is Chalky which gets dusted as quickly as you walk down four floors of the dark staircase of the Multiplex exit. God, the way they despatch you sucks, the movie ought to be good to carry you thru these exits of our Multiplexes.  

   Sanjay Sharma

Critic who loves to appreciate.

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