Indian festival favorite and box office success “Dostojee” (“Two Friends”), directed by Prasun Chatterjee will release across the U.S., U.A.E. and Australia and New Zealand on March 17.

California-based film distribution company Bioskope Films LLC has acquired U.S. theatrical rights and will release the film across 75 cities in 26 states. The theatrical release is an Oscar-qualifying run making the Bengali-language “Dostojee” eligible for consideration at the 96th Academy Awards, 2024. The film will have a premiere in New York City.

“Dostojee” will also release theatrically across 15 cities in Canada, 10 cities in Australia and New Zealand, and Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman in the U.A.E. Phars Film Co Motion Pictures will handle the U.A.E. distribution and Bongoz Films Australia and New Zealand.

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 (Asik Shaikh), the son of a Hindu Brahmin and Safikul (Arif Shaikh), whose father is a Muslim weaver, are best friends, but fate intervenes.

The film world premiered at the 2021 BFI London Film Festival, and after travelling to 32 film festivals in 26 countries and winning eight international awards, it was released theatrically in India in November 2022 and proved to be a box office success over a 12-week run. 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.

In January, Channel 4 acquired U.K. and Ireland broadcast and streaming rights.

Acclaimed films from South Asia previously distributed in the U.S. by Bioskope include Mostofa Aarwar Farooki’s “Doob: No Bed of Roses” and Amitabh Reza Chowdhury’s “Rickshaw Girl.”

“Childhood is the purest form of your being, and a friendship bonded in childhood is as pure as the origins of the oldest rivers. We at Bioskope Films think ‘Dostojee’ is a gem among pebbles. The film’s universal appeal transcends borders, races, divisions among people. And, that is why the film deserves a diaspora as well as the global audience – the film with that magical crossover appeal,” said Raj Hameed, CEO, Bioskope Films LLC.

“After watching ‘Dostojee’ we all felt that this film has the right ingredients and appeal to stay in a class of its own – a film that deserves the highest of accolades. That is why the film deserves a shot at the Academy Awards,” Hameed added.

Chatterjee added: “I can’t explain my feeling in words. This happened due to the honest hard work of my team members. I am really grateful to Raj Hameed and Naushaba Rashid of Biskope Films for this Oscar qualifying theatrical release across the U.S. I hope the American audience will love the film. Looking forward to explore the ocean of opportunities with Bioskope Films.”