Slate N' Pencil. ♦ Grade F
If you are making a film about schools and teachers, then it better have proper grammar and styling. But, this one here is so low on standards and execution that even the title uses a shortener.
Vidya (Azmi) is a school teacher in her late 50s trying to make ends meet with her job of more than twenty years. The private school which she teaches in is a den of politics and sadism where other multi-talented teachers like Jyoti (Chawla) also teach. After a sudden shuffle in the top management, Kamini (Dutta), the school's supervisor becomes the principal only to make the teachers', as well as the entire school's, lives a living hell.
While the story is straight out of a Star Plus soap, the execution is so bad that it is embarrassing. The characters are so poorly baked that they all reek of rawness, making the audience gag. Commercialization of India's private education sector is a good topic to make a documentary on, not a film, which is more preachy than your neighborhood pastor.
At every node of the film, one is bound to find mistakes - horrible mistakes that will make you cringe. There is not a speck of realism in the screenplay nor was, it seems, there a proper study of the subject, for they even get a fact wrong. The quiz type climax just marauds it and pushes the 2 hours of reel into the black abyss of the worst and most embarrassing Bollywood films ever.
Thespians like Azmi, Rahman, and Karnad are totally wasted, while Chawla wins the competition for worst acting.
BOTTOM LINE: Chalk N' Duster is a sketchy drama about propaganda of Indian education system where the subject is not the issue, but the lousy execution is. Avoid. (Note: My 50-something mother loved the film, though.)
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? YES