Brazilian Cinema with Dr. Raju Roychowdhury

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SCMC Perspectives recently featured the world of Brazilian Cinema with a guest lecture by Dr Raju Roychowdhury, A Research and Teaching Associate at Brazilian University, UNIFEI at Itajuba, Dr Raju Raychowdhury took the students through the history of Brazilian Cinema since the beginning of the ‘Cinema Novo’ movement in the 1960s, until contemporary cinematic expressions such as Luz nos Tropicos (2020).

A theoretical physicist by profession, Dr. Choudhary’s present area of research focuses on gauge theory, gravity and strings. As a cinephile, programmer and writer, he has collaborated with TENT festival in Kolkata, Mostra Strangloscope in Florianopolis, CINUSP, CCSP; and also contributed articles for digital platforms like kinescope, desistxlm, la Furia umana, experimental Cinema, among many others.

Dr Roychowdhury’s lecture revolved broadly around the two major Cinema Movements in Brazil: Cinema Novo and Cinema Marginal, the primary driving forces which brought Brazilian Cinema to the forefront. He supported the lecture with various clippings from notable Brazilian films made by prominent directors, which captured the audience immediately.

According to Dr. Roychowdhury, “Brazilian cinema existed before Cinema Novo as well.” He elaborated on the evolution of Brazilian Cinema from the silent era to the sound era. As he talked about one of the most renowned Brazilian Movies, Ganga Bruta, he said, “The transition from rural to urban Industrial Revolution was reflected in Ganga Bruta.” Dr. Roychowdhury also shed light on the backdrop of the Cinema Novo movement, which consisted of two phases.

The three most essential films created during the Cinema Novo movement are Vidas Secas by Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Deus e o Diabo na Terre do Sol & Barravento by Glauber Rocha. During this time, Brazil was undergoing political turmoil as the nation careened towards a dictatorship; and people from across the country expressed their anger through cinema.

Cinema Novo’s second phase saw the emergence of a parallel cinema movement, Cinema Marginal. Dr. Roychowdhury talked about one of the most critical films created during this movement, Rosas Da Estrada by Oznaldo Candeias, which is based on first-hand experiences. Combining documentary and fiction, Candeias delved into the plight and exploitation of rural women working in sugarcane fields, while living in crumbling neighbourhoods along the highway.

Towards the end of the lecture, Dr. Roychowdhury talked about the famous 2020 film Luz nos Tropicos by Paula Gaitin. He said,, “This monumental film is about the aboriginals of Brazil and the beautiful demography. Here, the main protagonist is seen tied between New York City and Brazil. It deals with Time and Space that is portraying Brazil from outside and from inside.”

Dr. Roychowdhury concluded the lecture by opening the forum to questions. The session was highly enriching and left the students thirsty for more knowledge about Brazilian Cinema.

Nibedita Mondal
(Batch 2022)