A Bengali Feature Film Exploring Love, Loss & Tragedy Amidst A Political Upheaval

A Bengali Feature Film Exploring Love, Loss & Tragedy Amidst A Political Upheaval

Mainstream cinema has always held very staunch, polarising opinions on religion. Whether it be idolising a certain religion and its beliefs or villainising another, there have seldom been attempts to bridge the disparity that exists in such narratives. Bengali filmmaker and director, Prasun Chatterjee’s attempt with his film ‘Dostojee’ maintains a glimmer of hope in this regard.

Set in Murshidabad in the late 90s amidst growing tensions between the Hindu-Muslim communities in India, the story explores the evolution of an innocent and heartwarming friendship between two eight-year-olds belonging to the opposing communities. Murshidabad’s shared border with Bangladesh during this period made it a volatile region that was prone to communal riots and attacks.

Amidst the disruptions to regular life, Palash and Safikul develop a pure and wholesome friendship that extends beyond the classroom. From a shared interest in dance and film music, their bond is strengthened over the simple pleasures of life, like most childhood friendships are. External conflict and violence soon find a way into their unlikely friendship and takes a tragic turn where the young, unaware leads are expected to cope with life, loss, and violence.

The film paints an unpretentious image of what Hindu-Muslim harmony could look like. Without asserting the creator’s perspectives and ideals on the issue, it simply taps into the power of human relationships to surpass all societal biases and challenges. The film also manages to paint a very realistic image of India’s turbulent political climate during the 90s.

Being a child of a first-generation refugee, Chatterjee brings out a very personal, intimate understanding and sensitivity to the screenplay that is hard to miss. Since its release, the film has made waves; being selected at over 20 International film festivals and innumerable national ones. The film will be making its debut in South Africa this week at the 43rd Durban International Film Festival.

Trailer for dostojee

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