The first thought one gets when having watched Nina Paley’s Sita Sings The Blues is that she is a dreamweaver and this story can indeed be termed as the greatest breakup story ever told. With the simple use of 2D animation, Sita Sings The Blues is a tale you just cannot get enough of. Speaking about life and love from a woman’s perspective, every woman who watches the film is ought to feel moved yet very inspired to move on from ever being bogged down by the blues. Eventually a woman must do what she must, as long as it nurses and heals a broken heart. Chronicling her real-life via this animated film, the writer-director-animator draws inferences from Goddess Sita’s tale as written in the many versions of the Ramayana. The most noteworthy point – the revival of The Blues sung by Annette Hanshaw, a popular singer from 1920s America. As stated by Nina, the stories that she read in books got more meaning with the songs by Annette Hanshaw, as they truly set the essence of the film.
With three sets of characters taking centrestage (so to speak), this re-telling of Ramayana is one by Sita – wife of Ram, object of affection of Ravana and point of inspiration for many women thereafter. She loves with all her heart, devotes herself to her husband and her one true love, faces dejection, weeps for days on end, and finally emerges strong from her plight of being the woman who was frowned upon for no plausible reason and hence, decided to move on, and move on like a boss she did. Most of us who’ve watched the film already know the complete story of the epic tale, but what we may not have understood was the pain our central character felt. Her voice, her emotions, have given many distraught, sometimes destitute women a voice of their own. Sita gained her Goddess stature because she proved herself to be the epitome of womanhood and this film reminds us of this.
The three narrators have the face of ancient kings (and queen) who are discussing this story like a group of individuals would make intelligent conversation of the topic of discussion. Kind of like the ones you’re likely to see at social gatherings, theatres and literature events around the country. (some views are usually borrowed tilting towards pseudo-intellect unfortunately, but we’ll get to that part later).
Nina Paley has masterfully ‘re’-created each of these characters to tell everyone about her own breakup (and how she probably moved on from it) which happened via email, and most certainly left her befuddled, without a clue as to why her husband/partner found such an innovative way to let go of the relationship. Once you get into the skin of this 2D character, you too, may find yourself empathizing with her, and perhaps, feeling what she felt. If a heartbreak causes the person at the receiving end to walk onto a path of greatness… then this is it.
When you walk into your room at the end of the day, and kick off your shoes, read a book, before you curl up and sleep, remember that there is always a better tomorrow and one partner’s choice or the ill-fate of a relationship doesn’t alter your life. Feel every bit empowered. Having said that, it’s not just about the women eventually, it’s likely to reach out to the men watching it and ensuring that it tugs at their heart-strings as well.
So, hear Sita Sing The Blues to you while she narrates her story in a span of 81 minutes. This is a crowd-funded film and every frame of it deserves to be watched repeatedly, and likewise, shared with one and all. Not to mention the beauty with which Annette Hanshaw’s classics shall become timeless through this apt usage.
*A version of this has been published under my author profile in July 2014, during my professional stint at BookMyShow*