India and Brazil have much more than the BRICS trade agreement in common. And what better way to learn about those similarities than through cinema?

The first edition of the Brazil in Delhi Film Festival, which opened on 6 August and concludes on 29 August, throws the spotlight on Brazilian cinema, which, in terms of the style of filmmaking, bears a striking resemblance to Indian cinema.

“This film festival aims to bring more of Brazil to India. There is so much about Brazil that is just not known. And films are a simple, yet strong medium to introduce these facets, especially as this year is being celebrated as the 70th year of friendship between both the nations,” says the Ambassador of Brazil to India, Tovar Da Silva Nunes.

Organised by the Embassy of Brazil in New Delhi, the festival is screening various genres of films from Brazil, including comedy, drama, fantasy and history, all subtitled in English. A total of eight films have been listed on the festival’s billing.

The films include Two Sons of Francisco, directed by Breno Silveira, one of the biggest blockbusters of Brazilian cinema; as well as the highly acclaimed The Clown, directed by Selton Mello.

Ankita Singh is an entrepreneur from Goa and was one among the many movie buffs who were present at the venue during the screening of Two Sons of Francisco. She says, “It’s a true story that speaks to our heart and reminded me very much about our own stories in India… The music is beautiful and similar to the kind of music we have in Goa. Even the Brazilian actors looked like Indians. I couldn’t have imagined that we were so similar in so many ways…”

Raj Kumar, another visitor at the festival, found The Clown “a rare mix of comedy and melancholia”. He says, “So far, everything I knew about Brazil was related to football. This is the first time I watched a Brazilian movie. And the film has very talented actors…”

Besides, there is a flavour of India woven into the festival too. The special effects seen in the film Malasartes and the Duel with Death, for example, were programmed by a team of experts from India, called Rotomates. This comedy, directed by Paulo Morelli in 2017, is the film with the highest number of special effects in the history of Brazilian cinema. Only a third of the film was shot on real locations in Brazil. The rest was all studio-produced, using computer graphics. Even the tangible objects featured in the film were 3D-printed and hand-painted in the studio.

In order to handle the large volume of special effects, the Brazilian filmmakers counted on Rotomates’ support, a collective which usually works on Hollywood productions. Rotomates VFX Studio carried out the film’s “rotoscopy”, which is an animation technique that allows, for example, a moving object to be extracted from a scene and reallocates it to a different background. With this, the comedy mixes two worlds, the real and the fantastic, in a very Brazilian way.

“Knowing about a country makes you want to discover it, and that is the beginning of exciting exchanges. India and Brazil have a deep connect. Did you know that there are a number of Brazilians in Rishikesh exploring spirituality, or that Yoga was already popular in Brazil in the 1960s? Well, these are just some examples. But we wish to deepen the bond, and that is something we can definitely do through initiatives that help cement the people-to-people bond,” says Ambassador Da Silva Nunes.

On being about asked about his favourite Bollywood actor, the Ambassador replies, “Anil Kapoor and Ranveer Singh.” And actress? Da Silva Nunes answers, “Priyanka Chopra”.

As I listen to the Ambassador talking about the people of his country, his journey to India, and the cultural initiatives being undertaken to mark the 70 years of friendship between India and Brazil, I am reminded of how beautiful the amalgamation of cultures can be. There is just so much to learn from one another, so much to explore, discover and assimilate.

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