Set in 1992-93, when Hindu-Muslim tensions escalated in India in the aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the Bombay bomb blasts and percolated down to a remote village on the India-Bangladesh border, the film follows the friendship of two eight-year-old boys. Palash, the son of a Hindu Brahmin and Safikul, whose father is a Muslim weaver, are best friends, but fate intervenes.
The film world premiered at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival, played at the Dhaka International Festival and will play at the Goteborg Film Festival from this Friday. At Greece’s Olympia International Film Festival for children and young people, Arif Shaikh won the award for best child’s performance in a feature film. Previously, it participated at the Hong Kong – Asia Film Financing Forum and at Indian lab Film Bazaar from where it went to the Cannes Film Market as part of the ‘Film Bazaar Goes to Cannes’ initiative.
The online Cannes 2020 is where Soul Pictures founder Nicos Beatty was introduced to “Two Friends.” “I met the director Prasun Chatterjee and what touched me the most was the clarity he had about how to tell the story and the tenderness and passion he exuded when making the pitch,” Beatty tells Variety.
“We were living a post-pandemic process that had left all of humanity beaten and seeing stories like ‘Two Friends’ reminds us of our childhood, of our best friend, of our relationship with life and death. The friendship and humankind’s capacity for empathy as a bulwark against bigotry but does not lose sight of the harsh reality that surrounds us. The story shows the positivity of the children’s world, while exposing the unreliability of adults and conveying its overall humanistic message,” he added.
“Two Friends” is produced by Kathak Talkies and producers are Chatterjee, Prosenjit Ranjan Nath, Soumya Mukhopadhyay and Ivy Yu-Hua Shen. “On behalf of all the producers, stakeholders and investors I can say that we are more than happy to get Soul Pictures on board. I hope we all will have a fantastic journey together,” Chatterje told Variety.
Soul Pictures, which has offices in Madrid, Barcelona and San Sebastian, is also a producer and distributor and has several projects in the works. “Esteparius,” to be directed by Beatty is currently in the financing/pre-production phase, with the aim of shooting in winter 2022. “Cold Love,” “Hunch” and “El Ultimo Rock” are in development. The company has acquired the rights of Patrick Bard’s novel “P.O.V.” for a series which will be written by Beatty and Carlos Cuarón. In 2022, Soul will open an office in the Canary Islands in order to to carry out international productions through the bountiful tax incentives available there.
Films represented for sales by Soul include Antoneta Alamat Kusijanovic’s 2021 Camera d’Or winner “Murina,” for Spain and Mexico, Carlos Cuarón’s “Amalgama,” Victor Postiglione’s “Santa” and Diego “Parker” Fernández’s “The Signing.”
Soul’s association with Chatterjee is set to continue.
“One of our jobs within the industry is to support new talent, those diamonds in the rough who are able to tell honest, true stories that come from the Soul. Prasun Chatterjee is one of them,” says Beatty. “And we are very excited to be able to count him on the list of our potential directors and above all to be able to accompany ‘Two Friends’ on this beautiful journey.”