The Math Teacher ‘Duggal’

The education system that we have today has several faces and it has recently come into focus due to the big screen especially in Bollywood.

There was “Taare Zameen Par” and ‘3 Idiots” by Amir highlighting the plight of students in our current educational system where talent is given less priority and students are rather HR products for capitalists, as John Gatto puts up in some of his speeches about the American educational system. Then there was the movie, “Paathshala” in which Nanapatekar was supposed to play a more better role then he did while the message was against private educational gimmicks that has turned education into a profitable industry, in the name of professionalism and commercialism. In either case the teachers are never the ones who get a bigger pie nor are they satisfied with their job.

“Do Dooni Chaar”, another such movie highlighting the lives of middle class families of India, including within it, the economical status of teachers in our society who produce highly paid officials and professionals but are themselves regarded as low class,  economic untouchables and are at plight if they try to live with decency. Rishi Kapoor has played an excellent role after so many years of acting.

Rishi Kapoor, playing a working-class loser who for the  first time in his career pitches in a near-flawless performance as a  maths teacher whose students  have gone on to own the best cars  in the world while he, the gyan guru,  remains frozen in his middle class karma. The movie has a practical illustration of an honest but frustrated teacher who would turn to selling marks for money, which does show the reality in some of our schools in real life. The reality is brought forward very cleverly. The movie careens towards a scathing comment on  the road taken by the underpaid teaching fraternity of the country, while the protagonist up the road of corruption is pulled back from temptation just in time.

The character sketch of both the middle class teacher and his wife Neetu Singh is done brilliantly, and there are some lessons to be learned by parents as well, as the math teacher declares his fault for not providing enough time for his kids while thinking that paying for a child’s fee at private school would suffice. The punishment or rather disciplinary action of Santosh (played by Rishi Kapoor) to his son, of distributing all the money to the poor, was just an exemplary lesson for parents.

The one thing that is prone to criticism is the huge amount of money given to the teacher for private tuition. Though the mithaiwala’s intent was to help the sincere teacher by offering him a handsome amount to create a ‘Good Man’ of his grandson but today the term tuition has also turned into a nuisance. Under-paid and desperate teachers have also turned it into a channel of extra income. Though one would not call it a corrupt practice but at times it results into the child being forced into extra classes for passing just so that the teacher could have a better life worth living.

On a level that goes beyond entertainment ‘Do Dooni Chaar’ is actually a timely warning to the architects of the country’s education system. The film says…don’t let the guru become a shishya of compromised idealism. Pay the teacher well, and start showing respect to them, else the product would indeed have its defects, as Kapoor explained, that, he would be remembered as corrupt person who taught that money could buy anything rather then a gyan guru.

Do Dooni Chaar, the title says it all, suggesting not only that the protagonist is a mathematician but also that he is constantly trying to count the ways to make his family’s life comfortable. The message is simple and clear.

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