'Chalk N Duster:' Insipid tale

MUMBAI: Chalk N Duster is an almost all-women game of politics taking place at a school, bearing a traditional old-fashioned name like Kantaben High School. There is a bunch of teachers, dedicated as they can be until an overly ambitious new principal steps in.

Divya Dutta manipulates her way to the position of the principal of Kantaben High School by ousting Zarina Wahab from the post. From there on, she wants to convert this traditional institution into a much-in-vogue “international school.” The overpriced school would automatically render it unaffordable for poor children making it a school only for the rich. The trustee of the school, Arya Babbar, supports her whims.

Now Dutta needs to get rid of the current lot of teachers. To achieve her goal, she starts harassing the teachers, changing the rules hoping this would force them to resign. While she harasses the teachers she wants to get rid of, she also rewards those who follow her line with better positions.

She starts with sacking teachers she does not want. As she sacks veteran teacher Shabana Azmi, there is a reaction but the others know they can’t do anything about it. However, a fellow teacher, Juhi Chawla, takes up the issue and also gets sacked in the bargain.

Babbar is delighted at the events at his school and also challenges the chairman of a rival school, Jackie Shroff, that his school will become more reputed than his. That boast proves costly for Babbar as Shroff does not take kindly to this dare. He decides to involve the media into the matters of Kantaben High School and soon a reporter, Richa Chadha, exposes the deeds of Babbar and Dutta on national television, no less.

Chalk N Duster has a horde of talented actors but this badly written and directed film fails to exploit their worth. It needed the duster right when the first draft for the film was penned.

Chalk N Duster is an insipid film unlikely to attract audience.

Producer: Amin Surani

Director: Jayant Gilatar

Cast: Shabana Azmi, Juhi Chawla, Divya Dutta, Upasna Singh, Girish Karnad, Zarina Wahab, Aarya Babbar, Samir Soni and Adi Irani with special appearances by Rishi Kapoor, Jackie Shroff and Richa Chaddha

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