Of Indian Education, Chalk & Duster and, Movie Review

May 05, 2016 , 2 Comments

Film: Chalk & Duster
Cast: Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Divya Datta, Rishi Kapoor, Girish Karnad, Jackie Shroff, Aryan Babbar, Sameer Soni, Upasana Singh, Zareena Wahab, 
Director: Jayant Gilatar
Genre: Social

Synopsis: KantaBen school gets an ambitious and shrewd New Principal who wants to soar high at any cost. She works her way from being an administrator of the school to the New Principal of the school and brings forth some very unpleasant and astute changes in the school, leading to teacher dissatisfaction and resentment.

In an unfortunate turn of event, she terminates one of the senior and very efficient Math teacher Vidya who couldn't bore the news and gets an heart attack, leading to hospitalization. The news reaches the rival school and creates a media controversy and unrest among other teachers. The terminated teacher's best friend- Jyoti, another efficient science teacher refuses to get bullied down by the new Principal and her cruel machiavellianism, resigns and resorts to media for support and outreach. She with the help of an honest journalist Bhairavi, manages to create enough stir and motion against the school management, towards justice for Vidya.

About the story: The film touches right chord when it talks about commercialization of education and raises the long pending issue of teachers and their lower status/income in the society. While the topic is sensitive, the treatment is a little dramatic and cinematic at some points. especially the whole inteview video going viral and media's over efficiency over the matter. Right, if our media is that efficient to fight for right causes, farmers in India would not be committing suicides, while a certain sect of media waxing elocution on sudden rise of intolerance in India.

The story is simple, heart touching and relevant. At the same time, it is slightly lopsided which makes it unreal at times. Nevertheless, if that helps to stir up an important subject like this, why not?

The Subject: Being somebody who always wanted to be a teacher, the subject is very close to my heart. I have seeen numerous people churning to be teachers esp in Govt schools but very rarely you find good teachers. The education system in the country lacks standardization or is it too much of a certain standard that is being followed in our educational societies? While the goveernment had taken many initiatives for the upliftment of poor and teachers, the question remains is if that is helping education system or not? My experience has seen more of ineeficient teachers who are in profession for either quota, secured income or otherwise. However, I have seen good teachers too but like I said, very less in ratio to inefficient ones. I would love to see more good examples and look forward for improvement in education system where a teacher judges an answer sheet basis the handwriting and breadth of papers filled, in a bid to complete the evaluation job and play on volume by evaluating large quantity of examination papers where they are being paid Rs 4 or so to judge a student's merit or ability. Yes, it is funny, ridiculous and very demeaning for students who have worked hard on education but have to prove their worth by submitting big fat answer sheets with cinematographic artwork.

Acting & Screenplay: The ladies leads the pack here. While all the actors including Juhi Chawla and Divya Dutta did a good job, the outstanding one came from veteran thespian Shabana Azmi and Zarina Wahab.

Actors like Sameer Soni and Aryan babbar were wasted in their respective roles or is it the case of bad acting that we may concur? 

The Rita Skeeter kind of characterization of Richa Chadda was inspirational [for our journalist if they want to] in pool of cliche surplus. Screenplay is decent and cinematography by Baba Azmi is good too. 

Numerounity Overall View:  Chalk & Duster is Sensitive but little too Cinematic. The not so out of box climax in KBC format diluted the senstivity for the topic for a while but gave a cinematic relief . However, if your audience is primarily kids and families, it does entertain. Hope the governing bodies find even more creative solution to such issues and problems. The not so creative jingle of BODMAS was more horrible than entertaining but Pandit Hari Prasad brought good old trigonometric memories.

Overall, the film does a good job in highlighting some very pertinent issues in our society with regards to education and politics around education. The education in india is indeed a sorry affair. This may be largely due to poor governance and over commercialization of basic education. Forget the state of affairs, movies like Chalk and Duster do not get enough dues and often are lost behind the big banner releases and their item numbers

"Great Subject, Good Actors, Mediocre Treatment" 

Numerounity Reviews

My Rating [solely for highlighting the issues] 3.5/5

In hope of seeing that school of dreams soon, someday :)

The autor is half Human, half machine. Go Figure or just revel in what I write


  1. An interesting review. I met Baba Azmi much before the release where he spoke to me about the film on education. Gotta watch it. In every profession, we have good and bad people be it teaching or media.

  2. Anonymous29 June

    i like the film story. Everyone to watch it.

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