This Bengali drama, set a few months after the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Bombay blasts, resists emotional manipulation and rings true.
The title of Prasun Chatterjee’s Dostojee is an affectionate term for a friend, and the film revolves around Palash and Safikul (Asif Shaikh, Arif Shaikh), who are best friends and neighbours. The first time we see these eight-year-old boys, they are in one of cinematographer Tuhin Biswas’s extraordinary wide shots. They are by a river, skimming stones and getting drenched in a downpour. Palash and Safikul are seen in many such frames – and they seem one with Nature, with hardly anyone else around. These children may come from impoverished backgrounds, like many in their village on the border of India and Bangladesh, but they are in paradise, in a wonderful world filled with rivers and giant trees and bird sounds and caterpillars. But when they come home, the real world intrudes. Their houses are separated by a makeshift wall, and the families seem to exist in some kind of uneasy harmony.
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