Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

October 15, 2010

Good heavens!

Filed under: Have you seen this? — Rajeev @ 3:00 am

You may be familiar with the Ramayana and its characters, but chances are you haven’t seen it presented in such a vibrant and original avatar as the animation film, Sita Sings The Blues.

Told from a distinctly feminist perspective, this film recounts many incidents from the epic including Lord Ram’s exile to the forest, the abduction of his wife Sita by Ravan, the role of Hanuman in Sita’s return to safety, and the test of purity Lord Ram put his wife through on her return.

Sita, the film’s protagonist, is sketched as a curvaceous princess who breaks into exciting musical numbers every now and then. Using the vocal stylings of 1920s jazz artiste Annette Hanshaw, the film gives Sita some great tracks to express herself through.

Running parallel to the unfolding Ramayana, is the film’s director Nina Paley’s semi-autobiographical story which begins in San Francisco. American couple Nina and Dave are young and in love. When Dave must take a temporary job in India, Nina misses him bitterly and flies off to join him there. He dumps her subsequently. Over an email.

Nina is shattered and can’t make sense of her life. Until she picks up the Ramayana one day, and finds inspiration in Sita’s story – which she discovers has so much in common with her own. She moves to the East Coast, settles into a home in Brooklyn and works long and hard for five years to create this film on her computer.

Filled with witty dialogue, especially the clever narration by three shadow puppets, this film is engaging and enjoyable because of the humour it finds in the unlikliest of places. The animation, although it’s simple 2D, works well here and is used innovatively to its best potential.

Taking us around the world in what is a wildly visual spectacle, Sita Sings The Blues is really a personal story at its core, even if Paley forges a bond of sisterhood that traverses time and place.

Don’t look for the film on DVD because it’s unlikely you’ll find it there. It’s actually available to download on the Internet, and it’s totally legal too. In a move to promote artistic freedom and more loose copyright restrictions, Paley decided to release the film herself, online, for free.

Her objective behind this was to reach out to as many people as were interested in watching the film. So if you’ve got a fast internet connection, log on to www.sitasingstheblues.com and discover this wonderful film; and the director says anyone who enjoys the film and wants to contribute towards the costs she incurred making it is invited to make a donation.

That’s entirely up to you. Just don’t miss the film.


  1. Watched It… Amazingly Good Fun…
    Specially the The RAMA Song By Luv Kush…
    Thanks For Recommending…
    Keep Up The Good Work

    Comment by Tanmay — October 22, 2010 @ 7:51 pm

  2. Hope this comes out in the UK, it looks great

    Comment by Andy Bent — October 23, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

  3. Awesome!!!…….One of the best animated movies i ve seen!!….. astonishing creativity
    Love it!!… distinctive & varied animation…gr8 pace and enchanting songs!
    Thanks a lot for the recomendation!

    Definately way better then ramayan The Epic!

    Comment by Siddhant Vyas — November 13, 2010 @ 10:54 am

  4. And to think that she made almost the entire movie on her own in her home computer! And the MUSIC, OMG! What a stroke of genius to give Annette Hanshaw’s voice to Sita, it just matches the mod perfectly!

    Comment by Jyothi — November 27, 2010 @ 12:21 am

  5. i have seen it.. and its absolutely fun.. ! the sad part is one of the voice-over is done by our very own manish acharya.. who passed away recently.. !
    nevertheless, the movie is breezy !

    Comment by ashish — January 29, 2011 @ 2:05 am

  6. Just watched it again and found some new things in the animation.
    I have watched the intro of this flick at-least a dozen times by now and it never fails to impress me.
    Nina Paley YOU ROCK!
    A very special thanks to Mr. Rajeev Masand for recommending this awesome movie.

    Comment by Gopal — February 5, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

  7. Hands down one of the best things I have seen in my life. This movie tells us what original and new really means. The raw energy and passion that the music brings to this movie left a smile on my face and an ache in my heart. Please watch this movie and do yourself a favor. You are worth it.

    Comment by Amit — February 18, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

  8. Rajeev, I am a big fan of yours. and follow all the movies that you recommend religiously.
    But can i say, that you let me down with this one. I did not like the depiction of characters, neither the flow of movie. The story-telling could have been so much better too. My religious friends ( who i pulled on front of sofa, because you said it was good) … took particular offense to the whole thing. They thought that the movie makes pun of their gods.

    all in all, its a bore …

    I have come to expect better from you.

    Comment by Rishikesh — February 19, 2011 @ 6:15 pm

  9. I watched it long time back..its good actually..
    but u sir, are clearly lagging behind in the list of good movies..u can find good stuff like this all over the internet.
    try to keep up.!!

    Comment by Prashant — February 22, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

  10. Looks fun !!!
    The way the concept is used, seem simple and come on strong at the same time…
    A good pick from the unknown i must say !

    Comment by Anup — February 27, 2011 @ 8:59 pm

  11. I watched it a couple years back and it was fantastic. They should do one for the mahabaratha using alternative an alternative rock-jack soundtrack it would be phenomenal.

    Comment by Priya — June 3, 2011 @ 3:03 am

  12. I found the film very boring and pathetic to the core!
    Though knowing the fact that the animation was done on a laptop by a single person, really appreciate the humongous efforts.
    People who like jazz music have more chances of enjoying this film.

    Comment by Gorab — September 29, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

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