Movie Review: Sita Sings the Blues

18 Dec

An animation and a musical woven out of an epic which has been a part of the rich cultural heritage of India forever – a combination which surely seems promising as a film and it certainly is. When my close friend Sanket suggested me to watch this one, I ought to take it up the moment I had a chance. “Sita Sings the Blues” is an animated film written, directed and produced by American artist Nina Paley. The film is a satirical take on certain prominent events of Ramayana – the most celebrated Indian epic, amalgamated with the story of a devastating marriage of a contemporary married couple, which in fact is the story of Nina Paley herself. First and foremost, what needs to be lauded about the film is the fact that Nina Paley, the one woman army has responsibly mastered every aspect of making the film and has done it with brilliance. With a shoe-string budget and lack of distributors, she released the film on YouTube in 2008. (Yes! It is legitimately freely available on the internet! 🙂  )

Let’s be clear on this – The film is about male bashing. There is no dispute on that fact.  😛 The script asks and demands answers to questions which are presumably not new even to the Indian audience. Why was Sita asked to prove her virginity by taking the Agnipariksha (the trial of fire)? Why did Ram not trust Sita after he got her back from Lanka? These are just a few of the questions which have been posed time and again by the feminists of this planet. However, Sita Sings the Blues does not propitiate any of the extreme ideas. It applies these questions to the modern day convolutions of relationships which each one of us sees around. The story of trust, betrayal, sacrifice and affection which all of us seem to be living day in and day out is worth exposing to these conundrums of destiny.

The narration of the story of the film is done using puppets with a voice over which is superb. This has given the entire  narrative an authentic feel of a folklore. On one hand the wonderful animations capture the essence of the story perfectly, on the other the engrossing soundtrack is worth the bet. The musical part of the film is accredited to Annette Hanshaw, the quintessential jazz singer whose voice has not only embossed the melancholy strain of Sita’s blues, but even presented some awesome music after a real long time for those who love musicals. My personal favorites are “Am I Blue” and “Who’s that knocking at my door”. Hats off to Nina to think of jazzing up an Indian cult epic! That does require a lot of courage! 🙂

There are particular sequences of the film which force the viewers to question their own sensibilities with which different societies have created different definitions of marriage. When there are expectations out of either ends of a marriage, friction is bound to occur. Wondering why Sita even went to the extent of proving herself time and again to a man who was blinded by disbelief is a question which we tend to hide somewhere in our minds, not wanting it to erupt. Sita Sings the Blues gives way to many such hidden questions. In my opinion, the eventual emotion which the director probably wants to convey is a possibility of Sita’s emancipation and empowerment as a woman before being tagged as Ram’s wife towards the end of the entire episode. May be something with which the modern woman can relate a lot.

Nina Paley has created motley of disparate emotions interwoven with a single thread of music with such penchant that makes you hysterically laugh at the most unexpected spots, mysteriously
cry at beautifully worded songs and finally avow – “WOW!” 🙂

For all of you who want to experience some really different cinema, Sita Sings the Blues is a must watch. Here is the YouTube link for the movie:-

Go for it!

Click here for more movie reviews.

My rating:


5 Responses to “Movie Review: Sita Sings the Blues”

  1. Shreyas December 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    Himanshu! A blog entry after a long time! Great review article there. (Have you considered journalism as an avenue? 🙂 )

    • Himanshu December 18, 2010 at 8:02 pm #

      Thanks for the compliment Shreyas. I am glad to know that you liked the review.

  2. Sushobhan Roy December 21, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Awesome review.. Will certainly catch the movie.. 🙂

    The you tube link looks promising .. 🙂

  3. Dishit December 24, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    when it comes to movies i follow you blindly and with your super-review the movie goes to the must-watch list sooner than onion prices can reach 100 😛

    have been hearing onion jokes all the time so couldn’t stop myself from cracking one although like onions it can make you cry or was it like the onions spoilt by rain…you got the drift right? :mrgreen:

    • Himanshu December 25, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

      @ Sushobhan
      Thanks bro. I am sure you will like the film. Do let me know how you find it 🙂

      @ Dish
      //goes to the must-watch list sooner than onion prices can reach 100 // — LOLzz. Ha Ha 😆 I know where would that be coming from 😉
      I totally get the drift! and I am lovin’ it! 🙂

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