Featured in last year's edition of Animation Nation, I finally got a chance to watch this masterpiece by filmmaker Nina Paley when she released it on the Internet under the Creative Commons License. And it is without a doubt that this piece of animation is well worth every minute of your time, especially when the visuals just arrests your attention from the get go, and has some wonderful music and songs by 1920s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, who provides the titular Sita with her singing voice.
Based on the epic Indian tale of Ramayana, focusing on the love triangle between Rama (voiced by Debargo Sanyal), his virtuous wife Sita (Nina Paley herself), and the adversary in the form of Ravana (Sanjiv Jhaveri) who lusts after Sita and kidnaps her, I have gotten a glimpse of this storyline when it got featured in films such as Swades and the more recent Delhi-6. Essentially the extracts in those film featured how Ravana kidnaps Sita for her beauty, and wanted to make her his wife, only for her to hold out enough for Rama to find them, and to kill Ravana in an ensuing war.
The story here expands that tale a lot more, starting with how Rama got banished from his kingdom by his father the King, and together with Sita, roams a forest until her kidnap, their reunion, and how Rama decided to banish her given his incessant suspicion that she may not have been pure, and got violated. It's a sad love story in a way, and this film provided just enough to pique your interest in wanting to read up more.
It's quite amazing how Paley herself directed this piece of magic, and adopted various animation styles to tell a story, and a musical, and has a separate tale set in the modern day to parallel that of the epic tale. I am speechless by how wonderful the opening credits got designed, fused perfectly with the song playing in the background. Her choice of the Annette Hanshaw tunes were a wonderful touch that fit the story to a T, and this can only be attributed to some astonishing creativity and innovation that Paley had demonstrated, and I can't help but to want more.
The shadow puppet narrators (Aseem Chhabra, Bhavana Nagulapally and Manish Acharya) stole the show each time they're on, as they sound just like your good pals who can't wait to give you the lowdown on what they know about this tragic love triangle. They're hilarious and never at any point felt deliberately so, with that very natural feel about the way they want to tell a story.
I would have loved to experience this in a big screen theatre setting, but I guess that would not come anytime soon. So the next best alternative was to download the highest resolution version available to watch this astounding piece as well as to admire the striking attention to details that Paley so lovingly and respectfully put into the characters. You would do yourself a favour and watch how Sita Sings the Blues, as it's a definite must-watch in my books!
For more details, head on down to the official website.
Watch Sita Sings The Blues for free via:
and of course a donation to the filmmaker would never hurt!