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The movie is about Sita, the Hindu Goddess from the epic "The Ramayana", who accompanies Lord Rama on a 14 year exile in forest. Sita is abducted by Ravana, the ruler of Lanka. This movie tells the story of Rama and Sita, along-with a biographical account of the director's relationship with her husband. Written by
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The musicians are shown playing with the left and right hands reversed. The clarinet, like all woodwinds, is played with the left hand at the top. The violin is held with the left hand and bowed with the right. But in the movie, the clarinet player has the right hand at the top, and the violin is held with the right and bowed with the left. See more »
'Sita sings the Blues' is an independent animated movie that re-tells the Ramayana using mainly 2D animation and some immensely refreshing screenplay. The premise unfolds in three parallel tracks one, with an American couple living in New York with the husband getting a project in Trivandrum in India; two, three Indians (yes yes, actual Indians!) voicing three shadow like caricatures bickering and debating about the events that Ramayana is popular for and a third, sort of, platonic/musical track is the animation piece where Sita breaks into one of Hanshaw's classics every time a relevant situation presents itself. Like 'Daddy wont you please come home' when she is abducted by Ravana or 'Who's that knockin' when Rama arrives at Ravana's door with his 'vaanar-sena' to rescue her. The moments and the way these songs lend themselves to the scenes are absolutely brilliant.
What also becomes obvious is how unassuming and non-philosophical the whole thing is. Even the dialog between the caricatures in Ramayana is so simple and regular, that one can't help but giggle when the evil Kaikeyi says to Rama on his banishment 'Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out!' Is that not what she really would have felt like saying anyway? This is seriously funny stuff.
What also gets your attention quickly is the absolutely gorgeous artwork. Be it the drawings that are set to a very 'Rajasthan painting' like motif or the 2D animated waist wiggle that Sita gets into whenever she thinks of her beloved Rama and voices out classics from Hanshaw's collection. There is also one brilliant piece just after intermission (and may I add, that was the best intermission I have ever seen in an animated piece!) by Todd Michaelsen called 'Sita's Fire' are plain awesome. The way these various types of art pieces blend into one another with such finesse without taking away from the main plot is an effort that can only be described as genius.
But then 'Sita sings the Blues' is more than just eye catchy drawings, a narrative that holds you in place and a much contemporary way to retell the epic with the most unlikely Jazz legend for the songs! It is about demystifying the way Ramayana has been told for so many centuries in our country. We have Rama as a brave warrior who, despite being a just King and a righteous man, falls short of being the perfect husband and father. In 'Sita sings ' not only is he portrayed as extremely human and intensely flawed, but even the 'God' factor is finally skinned out which, I thought, was such a refreshing thing to do. For so many decades there have been murders, riots, rapes and looting in India using Rama's name as the only rationale. It was definitely about time someone gave that a bottom line and presented a much more mature, albeit said in a kindergarten level intellectual sequence, and realistic way to see and use the teachings from this epic. Something that actually helps the American woman in the parallel story track to do once she gets her hands on the Ramayana. What also makes you reflect on your own knowledge of the story is how Ravana, the villain of the piece, is hinted at being the actual good guy in the story! A thought that had never occurred to me. Sure, he abducted Sita against her will but hey, was that not all he had done to wrong Rama? He didn't touch her person. He didn't force himself on her in Lanka. Heck, he didn't even make Herculean attempts to find Rama and finish him off. A thought that throws more light on Ravana's much ignored and definitely much clichéd personality in our modern history.
I strongly urge everyone to see this beautiful masterpiece of a movie not just to appreciate the artistic value it so boldly embodies but to also understand the subtleties with which it tells us how to get our priorities straight without being preachy.
The only 'drawback', if I really had to pick, would be the slightly feminist seeming climax. Maybe it is just me but again, maybe it was a tongue in cheek ploy at looking at how Hindu mythologies have always worked. I am unsure. But somehow I felt it could have been choreographed in a less assertive manner.
Nevertheless, this now is officially in my 'all time favorites' list!
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