Director Prasun Chatterjee’s Bengali debut feature, Dostojee (Two Friends), which is co-produced by his banner Kathak Talkies, is a tender film about two little friends in a Bengali border village. The film is set to have a world premiere in the ‘Love’ strand of the 65th BFI London Film Festival (October 6-17).
Watch Dostojee teaser here
The film captures the innocent friendship of two boys in a remote Bengali border village in West Bengal’s Domkal (Murshidabad), separated from Bangladesh by river Padma. The thick-as-thieves friendship of the eight-year-olds Palash (Asif Shaikh) and Safikul (Arif Shaikh) transcends the barriers built by religion and society. This remote village, however, isn’t untouched by echoes of Babri Masjid demolition and the following ’92-93 Bombay blasts. In a tragic turn of events, the two friends are parted. But do friendships end when friends leave? How do they face their first farewell?
The 111-minute film in colour, shot on 5.1 Scope lens, has been magnificently shot by first-time cinematographer Tuhin Biswas. A still photographer and primary-school teacher in West Bengal’s Nadia district, he was unsure about the video format, until Chatterjee told him, “This is photography too, just think of these as 24 stills per second”. The director told Indian Express last year that the film is about “broader humanism, rising above all discrimination, seen through the lens of innocence”.
From paper to screen, it’s been a seven-year journey since 2013, from scripting, crowdfunding to finding co-producers Prosenjit Ranjan Nath and Soumya Mukhopadhyay of Cherrypix Movies in 2017, and Taiwan’s Ivy Yu-Hua Shen after NFDC Film Bazaar selected Dostojee in November 2019 in its Recommends section. It was among five films selected by NFDC to ‘Goes to Cannes’ in June 2020. The film will now have a world premiere this month at BFI London Film Festival and will soon have its India premiere.
The British Film Institute (BFI) Southbank (October 12) screening is already “sold out”. The Indian and Bangladeshi diaspora, among other people in London, seems eager to catch the film. If you are in London, and would like to watch the film, tickets are still available for the screening at Institute of Contemporary Arts (visit https://www.ica.art/films/two-friends). The screening will be held on October 14.