A few days ago I saw an absolutely wonderful little film called Sita Sings the Blues.The film is an animated re-interpretation of the Ramayana as "the greatest break-up story ever told".
I've always had a bit of a grouse with the Ramayana because of the way Rama treated Sita. I can not understand how a man becomes maryada purushottamma with the way he treated his wife. I understand this is way before women's lib and colonialism but something about abandoning your pregnant wife in a forest is quite inhuman. I've always felt for Sita, maybe even pitied her a bit. For all her love and devotion all she got was a kick in the behind. I know right wing Hindutvadi's will disagree but let me be clear here, culture, religion and mythology just like literature, art and film are always open to interpretation, they belong to everyone and no one at the same time. Ergo no one has the right to claim supremacy of one version over the other.
Many might consider Nina Paley's version to be rather irreverent to the Hindu epic that it is based on but I think like every piece of art, it is curious, it questions and prompts one to think about what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a woman who loves a man too much.
Originally I was a bit surprised that a piece of art like this came from an American woman. It was a bit jarring initially but once I got over that bit, I think Nina Paley has done justice to the story of the Ramayana. She has not belittled Hindu Culture but has understood what is at the heart of a great story and has appropriated it.
I think bits like the clip below can bit quite funny to some (me included) and quite blasphemous to others. Irrespective it is a fascinating piece that is at once, honest, ironic, sarcastic and genuine.
The use of Jazz music is rather interesting. Personally I find it lends a beautiful transferability to the story so that no matter where in the world you are, you can feel for this woman. It takes an essentially rooted story and makes it universal.
Now Sita Sings the Blues is a part of the copyleft movement and therefore is available online at great resolutions for free. You can also watch it in its entirety on Youtube.
For more information - or if you are just plain curious visit the website.
Now I know a lot of people will disagree with what I've said. All I have to say is please do watch the film in its entirety before you form an opinion.