REEL 13
Indies

Sita Sings the Blues

Air Date: April 17, 2010 after the Reel 13 Classic on THIRTEEN

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by e-mail. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this beautifully animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana. Set to the 1920′s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told.”

(synopsis via sitasingstheblues.com)

Directed by: Nina Paley

Nina Paley, “America’s best-loved unknown cartoonist,” was a self-taught comic strip artist before she got into filmmaking. After creating the alt-weekly hit “Nina’s Adventures” and later the nationally syndicated strip “Fluff,” Paley started making short films in 1998. In 2002 she moved to India with her husband and discovered the Indian epic Ramayana as her marriage was ending. These two seemingly unrelated events come together in Sita Sings the Blues, the feature film that Paley spent five years making on her home computer.

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  • Matt Bachmann

    This is amazing, I want to host a screening at my school. Can’t wait till the DVD is available!

  • Charlie

    Awesome.

  • Alan

    I’ve been waiting forever to see this. Thank you very much, WNET!

  • c

    Thank you so much for putting this up. It’s greatly appreciated.

  • M_Man

    Thank You very much Thirteen for showing this in its entirety. I’ve been really looking forward to watching Ms. Paley’s animation.

  • D. Blackthorn

    Thanx 13! This is yet another reason I’m proud to be a member!

  • Libby

    Saw this movie at a local festival, and am SO happy to see it again! Thank you for posting! PLEASE NINA, RELEASE THE DVD!!!!

  • Julie

    Brilliant! Danka!

  • Amy

    Fantastic!!!! I’ve been waiting to watch Sita in her entirety for ages. It was even better than expected. Thanks so much.

  • rax

    Absolutely love the movie. Bravo.

  • lois

    Hope it will be here longer so I can finish it. Great start.

  • rayshma

    hey Ms.paley,
    you brought the real essence of indian mythology n asthetics thru your own intepretation..the movie came out best because of your understanding of mythology..n the characters which you have designed are absolutely mind blowing..especially lakshmi..she looks stunning with her Contemporary look..
    i had never imagined goddess of earth will look this brilliant thru your art..
    lottsa thanx to bring the real story of sita to the world..HATS OFF !!!!!
    keep rokking !!!!!

  • David

    This is amazing! I can honestly say I’d never imagined watching a whole movie in a little web browser window, but this movie had be hooked from the start. I can’t wait to watch it again on a larger screen.

  • Kenny Cross

    Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve been following the story of this movie thanks to Roger Ebert and now I finally got to see this amazing movie. The music I have fallen in love with.

    You have made my week, month, heck year so far. Awesome.

  • mary spoores

    Thank you for sharing.I just finished watching it and I will be watching it again.Totally awsome..I watched it full screen and the colors and animation was so beautiful,bravo..and thank you again

  • Matt

    Fantastic, every minute. Even with some technical difficulties that forced me to restart the movie a number of times we persevered, totally enchanted. I love the mix of styles, and the hilarious touches throughout — which grow organically out of the stories and the informal group storytelling framework. Thanks for this labor of love. and not-love, too, I suppose!

  • Nina

    Absolutely brilliant!

  • Shelley Noble

    Really glad to have seen this. Very creative, meaningful, and inspired.

  • Jade

    Vasistha’s Yoga meets Judy Garland. Loved the Batman spoof. Would love to see a scorned woman alternate ending – something very Alanis Morissette. How about Tripura Rahasya or Bhagavad Gita next?

  • Avni

    I loved you – Nina Paley – Amazing Job – every woman should watch this.

  • Erick

    How can I download this movie? The speed of this site sucks.

  • gorigori quite contrary

    Brilliant! Ma-effin’ brilliant!

    Get this in the cultural house cinemas in India ASAP!!!

    Now with cross-over Slumdog success, the time is pakka (ripe)!

    Tu Jao Sita! You go girl!

  • Jill

    This was incredible, I loved it! :D

  • Andrew Clarke

    I would like to use this as a teaching tool in RE lessons at school. Please release a DVD! :)

  • Sasha

    A cultural Indian “Chick Flick.” I thought it was brilliant, especially because Nina Paley created the entire Short Film on her computer? My computer should be blessed with such creativity and usefulness. Amazingly enchanting!

  • Simon Gibson

    Having just arrived back from three weeks in Chennai (Madras) south India this captures everything that the country infuses you with, colour, music, huge stories, amazing sights and friendly people.

  • Mary and Nick

    Incredible! Incredibly beautiful;incredible psychedelic colors; incredible to match East and West, 20′íes songs with Indian Myth; matching East and West: even to consider fusing, one of the most creative things ever seen! one of the most creative things we have seen! never been done before; sacrificing woman, arrogant man… behavior and emotions part of both cultures;

    We saw it twice, today!

  • Sir Craig

    This absolutely blew me away. There is too much for me to even begin focusing on, but this is without a doubt the BEST thing I have ever seen on the Internet. This is an incredibly beautiful animation, with wonderful music and a story line that kept me hooked. The mythology mixed with Western styles was amazing, and I cannot plead with you enough to release this on Blu-Ray.

    Thank you!

  • Sandra

    Wow, this is amazing! Visually stunning, creative story drawing on such diverse influences, more than the sum of its parts.

  • mitch

    wow. thanks.

  • MK

    Just amazing. I will use it in my Mythology class! Absolutely BRILLIANT! I hope you make more!!!

  • rich
  • Tommy Klingvall

    Brilliant work! Congratulations to Nina Paley.
    Thank you Reel 13 for offering this.
    I hope it will be available as a dvd.
    Tommy K

  • Drakar

    The 480P version as posted on archive.org is now available as a torrent – http://www.mininova.org/get/2339365

  • Terri MacMillan

    briliiant, incandescent work. thank you so much!

  • rosablue

    What exuberant folly. Thank you so very much. More power to your art

  • Rashi

    Awesome is the word! The animation rocks and so do the dialogues and their delivery.A very good way of introducing our Indian mythology to the youth.Hats off to your work!

  • Digital Nomad

    Why the false Indian accent? The illustration is superb no doubt and The use of jazz/blues is OK and boundaries on being creative. But why pick up this epic. This not only has religious sentiments linked to it but has been hailed time and again for being deeply insightful depicting character, righteousness and virtues of people in a society. Virtues that people make mockery of today.This is not a Romeo Juliet love story. Turning this into a cartoon little better than spongebob squarepants is at best silly. They could have done the same art depicting some other king and queen
    The narration and the script is an abhoration to say the least.
    This is a classic example of when good art is in bad taste.

  • Rodrigo

    Really one of the best piece of art i’ve seen (animation, music, narration)

  • Drakar

    @Digital Nomad: have you actually looked into who were providing the Indian-accented voices you describe as “false”?
    The only accent in the movie I know of that is faked is one of the American ones…

  • Tushar

    Too Good! Simply the best depiction of Ramayana on this side of the Pacific.

  • DaisyDeadhead

    This is fantastic, really enjoyed watching!

  • Jany

    Loved this movie. Thanks Thirteen

  • Reena

    SoundTrack Music by Todd Michaelsen::
    Opening Title Music and “Agni Pariksha” & more available at
    http://www.ToddMichaelsen.com

  • gladys chinitz

    First saw Sita Sings the Blues on Reel 13 NYC (TV), then spent the rest of the night rewatching it on the internet. I am awed by the talent and creativity of Nina Paley. Thank you so much for sharing this delightful work of art.

  • Betim

    What an incredible imagination and talent Nina has.
    Bravo Nina from the bottom of my hearth.I hold my breath while watching this on PBS on March 7th. Thank you PBS.I am waiting for the Dvd so i can own my copy and watch over and over again.This future is so inspiring, i want to buy the Dvd for all my friends.You are an amazing artist Nina.Keep creating please.

  • hal smith

    I knew Annette Hanshaw, back in the 70′s. She told me hated her records but I think she would be very proud of Sita.

  • Tedi Ramseur

    I caught this experience on PBS The Art,Music and story was excellent. sorry Nina where there is loss there is also gain. Dave who’s crying Now! His loss is your gain I Pray I’ll see more of your work.Mmmm GOOD.

  • tom

    GREAT! I can’t wait to watch this visual feast. Last year I saw half of this at a film festival until technical difficulties ended the show. I was so bummed at the time because it was unlike anything I had ever seen before or since! Now I can finally see the whole thing.

  • kam

    My comments on the airing of this film on PBS station: As a Hindu living in USA, and an ardent fan of PBS programming, I am totally shocked at PBS for airing this film, which is very offensive to the Hindu sentiment. Ramayana and its characters are held very sacred by all Hindus, and I trusted PBS to be more sensitive.I am disappointed.

  • edgertor

    to digital nomad: nina got her indian friends to do the voices…that’s no false accent.

  • Jabalimuni

    I saw puppt show of Ramayana but this is made to the taste of not only Indians biy for people of other countries

  • Durgadevi

    It is evident that Nina Paley is a very talented artiste. She is to be applauded for her talent.

    That she is a talented artiste who has cannibalized one of the most widely known and respected ITIHAASAs in Hindu spiritual tradition is an act which is deplored by all of us in the West who respect and appreciate Hindu culture and spirituality.

    Unlike Nina Paley’s husband who “dumped” her when he went to India, our AVATAR Raama had his wife Sita abducted by the demon Raavana. He literally moved heaven and earth to have her restored to him.

    His questioning of her character was more to do with his role as the King of Ayodhya and the impact on that role of the rumours and gossip circulating among his subjects in the Ayodhya kingdom about Sita’s probity.

    Western feminists and so called Western Sanskrit scholars love to prate on about the oppression of Sita. as evidenced by the Christian posts on this site . As a matter of fact Sita chose immolation rather than having her good name besmirched.

    Raama had to chose between the wife whom he loved and his kingdom. As a good ruler he chose the latter.

    In a society where equality for women now means not just equality of access and treatment but the untrammelled right to ape the more degraded aspects of masculine behaviour , the many- layered meanings of the sacred Hindu allegorical narratives are dismissed to score cheap points and for self aggrandisment.

    It would be great if Nina Paley looked at old/immigrant religious traditions generoulsy being spawned in the bosom of her own society and applied her creativity to those. Let us see if she is so dedicated to her art.!

    The voluble praise and appreciation for Nina Paley’s oeuvre as evidenced on this site indicates the famine of rich and creative ideas in Western civilization.

    Such richness and crativity imbues the Dharmic( Sikh, Buddhist, Jain and Hindu ) traditions

  • T Chauhan

    Good artwork/animation.
    The story now mixed with todays problem. Someways this can mislead the Ramayan to newcomers.

  • Shridhar

    This video hurts the sentiments of Hindu’s across the world as it does not represent Ramayana in the true sense and with the respect it demands. It should be removed from the website. Learn to respect the sentiments of others!

    When such a cartoon is made about other religions, there are worldwide protests. Just because Hindus are so peaceful and liberal, does not mean you guys can say anything about them.

  • Satish

    This film is in no way a purist reflection of Hindu scripture and I am sure that Nina Paley did not intend it to be such.
    It appears to be her understanding of the material and how she weaves it in a contemporary way.

    The material does not appear to be aimed at mainstream Hindu believers. I would suggest that its target audience appears to be more in tune with grabbing the attention of curious Westerners.

    CAUTION: This private interpretative film must not be used to teach Hinduism in schools or other such learning fora.

    Having said all of that, the question remains:
    IS THE MATERIAL BLASPHEMOUS?
    Whereas Ms Paley took certain positions of poetic licence during the narrative, I would say the film is NOT blasphemous.

    Hinduism has been attacked very much more tragically in the past and it will live through this. Furthermore, I must confess I feel certain empathy for the artist who is clearly very talented and intelligent.

  • John Gilmore

    Ms. Paley has released the movie under a Creative Commons “Share-Alike” license so that anyone can modify it, or take pieces from it, and make movies of their own. She encourages all creators to use her characters and images to create MORE art.

    Those who consider is blasphemous, and who have talent at movie-making, are welcome to make an altered movie that would faithfully represent their view of religion.

    Personally I am not a believer in the whole concept of blasphemy. The cure for speech that you disagree with is more speech. Explain what you think the public should know, rather than try to suppress other peoples’ speech.
    Or as Gandhi would say, teach nonviolence by your own acts. So, make your own movie!

  • Durgadevi

    Blaspemy is an Abrahamic term and not native to the Hindu spiritual tradition. It is a tradition which encourages questioning, chsllenging and debating.
    Paley’s cartoon narrative on the Ramayana serves to amuse and entertain the Westerner and the Western educated Hindu who upon seeing the laughable quirkiness of the comic figures become more entrenched in their attitudes of superiority over the Hindu psyche – a psyche which has been shaped by the very epic which Paley has disembowelled for her artistic endeavours.

    Hinduism is the last remaining unbroken spritual tradition which is manifested in a current living and breathing society. It has produced such breathtaking richness, plurality and diversity that wins the heart, the mind and the soul.

    This has been the case in spite of centuries of invasions, encroachment , vilification ,conversion , distortion and denigration.

    Our dharmic tradtion stands as the last surviving witness to a pluralistic lineage when other societies ( Native American, Aboriginal, Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian , Nordic, Greek, Roman and Tibetan -to name but a few) have been neutered, neitralized and obliterated . We should all of us take steps however small to defend and protect our Hindu heritage – a heritage which is a global and universal one.

    As for making our own movie-I agree.who will take up the challenge?

  • Magnus

    Fantastic!

  • Uma Mason

    You should submit it into Sundance Film festival for next years show. Submission date ends end of October. It is done so well I am sure it will be a great new story and style of movie.

  • Balaji

    Horrible depiction of the most revered scripture of ancient India. Nina Paley has no rights to compare herself with Sita. The questioning as to how Sita became pregnant is ridiculous!
    Here is the answer:-
    1. Like all other girls, Sita grew with her parents (she did not become pregnant then, as pre-marital sex s common only with Westerners/Christians, of course this has been brought to India only now).
    2. The married life of Sita with Ram in Ayodhya (before exile) was very short. She did not become pregnant even then.
    3. Sita was imprisoned for only 10 months in Lanka, and it is important to note that RAVAN DID NOT TOUCH SITA because of a curse (Anti-hindus use this to say that Ravan was a “gentleman”).
    4. Sita did not become pregnant even during the exile, as I suppose no prince/princess would feel like having sex in forests (it may be possible with Western Christians). So this is also ruled out!
    5. The only option is when Sita and Ram return to Ayodhya after the war and exile period has elapsed. Logically speaking, Ram is the father of Sita’s children, as they spent some days after returning to Ayodhya. And I suppose the same gestation period of 280 days holds here.
    So Ram is the father of Sita’s children, and not Ravan or anyone else as “chaste” Nina Paley has claimed!
    Ram never doubted Sita’s chastity. He had to send her to forests because of the doubts in the minds of his people, and people are more important for a King than his family. Know that first!
    Poor Ram! There were no DNA tests then.. else Ram would have proved Sita’s chastity to his own people and such “chaste” women like Nina Paley and the commentators above! Can Ninan Paley prove that her great grand-father was born to his father??
    The Hindu epics have bee ridiculed repeatedly, and I think doubting Sita’s (or any other Hindu goddess’) chastity has become a fashion.

    And to all those who opposed this “movie”:-
    It is a direct assault on the most peaceful and ever-tolerant people of the world. Whatever you shout, they won’t respond, the time will come when the reverse situation would occur. Be patient please!!

  • Ghulam

    Ms. Paley,

    If you had produced a movie of prophet Muhammad with his 22 wives and a 11 year old girl to be his wife, we Muslims would have come after you. These Hindus are coward. You are depicting one of their Gods and Sita in a very poor taste. It is not a mythology as described by Reshma. How could it be mythology if NASA has proved that there was a bridge between India and Sri Lanka? As an Indian Muslim and studied Indian culture I am very saddened by your production. You should be ashamed of yourself by such a vulgar depiction of Sita and and the Goddess Lakshmi.

    For those who wants to use for their school; as an Indian Muslim and a student of Indian Gods Historical fact I urge you not to use this garbage produced by this ashamed woman Ms. Nina Paley.

    Thank you.

  • Sitaram

    This is the worst production that I ever seen in my whole life. Ms. Nina, it appears you have lots of problems since your divorce with your husband. You have portrayed the most revered God Ram who is know as “Adarsh Purush” (noble man) as target and compared him to your husband. You are a disgusted woman.

    The people who have praised you are Westerners and some dumb Indians who do not know the true story of Ramayan. Ramayan was not an epic or a mythology. It is actually Lord Ram was born to Dasharatha and married to Sita and he respected Sita. Your animation of Goddess Laxmi and Sita is very distasteful to all Hindus. I am not sure what Dharma you follow but if you had portrayed Jesus or Prophet Mohammad in any derogatory way the Christians and Islamist Jihadis would come after you and you would not be alive.

    We Hindus request to you and PBS Channel 13 of New York should pull this back and offer an apology to entire Hindu community in the World. For your information there are Muslim Nations likes of Indinesia, Bali where Ramayan is the culture and it is preserved and respected by Muslims in those countries. Ms Nina and PBS should be ashmed to promote such vulgar depiction of Hindu Gods using public money.

    Thank you.

  • GMG

    What a shameful production by woman who was divorce by her husband and she take her revenge on Hindus revered God Lord Ram. Sita was portrayed as sex symbol in Surpankha’s voice dubbed by Pooja Kumar who is born and raised in USA may be as Hindu may be not; Ms. Pooja and her parents should be shameful to use such vulgar language describe Sita’s beuty. Another USA born Indian Ms. Reena Shah and so many others, they should think that people like Nina used them to dubbed the voice and portrayed our cultural most precious Ramayan history. Some of them even think it is an epic. Because that is what Ms Nina Paley has said in her introduction to the movie. We Indian are gullible and do not understand how the West is taking advantage of our good nature.

    Can you imagine what would have happened to Nina, Reema Shah, Pooja Kumar and others who vulgarized the prophet Mohammad or Jesus?

    The Imam would declare Fatwa against these women and men. All evangelists would go after these idiots. But we Hindus are cool and calm and let these people abuse our Lord Ram and Sita.

    Oh!!!!!! sleeping Hindus Awake and Arise and defend your culture before it evaporates in front of you. Let us get after this production and PBS Channel 13 in New York. Let us not donate any funds to PBS. Let us write to PBS and make sure that Ms. Nina, Reema Shah, Pooja Kumar and others are punished or let them come forward and offer their apology to all the Hindus of the world.

    Let us be vigilant. That is what Ramayan has taught us, that is what Mahabharat taught us. If we do not defend our own values then who will?

    I wonder if any of the parents of Reema Shah , Pooja Kumar and other Indians who were contributor to this film know what their offsprings have done to Hindu culture and values. Shame on those parents who gave birth to these rascals.

  • Durgadevi

    It is good to see so many posts both praising Ms Paley’s technical and artistic skill ( from Westerners and others) as well as from a few Hindus who challenge Ms Paley’s denigration of an important Hindu narrative. Such debate and discussion serve to underline the acceptance with in the Dharmic tradition of the freedom to express one’s spiritual, moral and creative impulses.

    Ms Paley however abuses the accepting and open nature of the Hindu tradition by distorting and trivialising a Sanskrit tale which has eternal and global relevance even in this age.

    I take umbrage however at Ms Paley’s claim that she has been “threatened ” by “Hindu fundamentalists”.There are a small (where is the diaspora of 22 million Hindus?) number of posts from people with Hindu sounding names who express their unhappiness not ,note this, with Ms Paley’s artistic and technical skill and the choice of her subject. They express their dissatisfaction with the manner in which she has used the Ramayana which has served to portray it in a derogatory fashion and to convey highly erroneous messages about the roles of Rama and Sita and the power-gender realtionship between them.

    In none of those posts are there any threats to Ms Paley – there have been no FATWA, no CYBER ATTACKS on her website, no firebombings of her house , no demonstrations calling for her death or incitements to others instructing them to seek her and to snuff out her life.

    Her use of the term “Hindu fundamentalist” is also an oxymoron. a contradiction in terms. The term “Hindu ” itself stands for a tradition of seeing the world as one -of seeing the underlying unity behind a seemingly diverse world. The Dharmic tradition does not have one founder( one fundament) one book and one way of seeing the world. It does not seek to kill and maim and obliterate those modes of seeing and thinking and being which are different but accepts that the Universe thrives on diversity and difference. Ms Paly should research the history of India and Hindu thought to see how misguided she is in using the term “Hindu fundamentalist”

    Yes there are a number of posts

  • Seafarer

    I rather like it! thanks for sharing this beautiful work of art.
    it has also given me a tiny glimpse into a universe of myth and stories that I have on one hand always known was there, but that I have found far to complicated and bewildering to approach.
    So it probably isnt a purist representation, perhaps some hindu scholars and traditionalists will regard this in pretty much the same way I regard another great american maker of animated films’ ventures into european fairytales and folklore.. so be it, then, this representation is at least comprehensible to me. Also I can see how some may be offended by the parallels drawn in the movie between holy relations deeply founded in religion and culture, and the much more mundane and every day story of Nina… BUT:
    I honestly do not think this parallel is drawn with malice or bad intentions. Bad taste in some peoples eyes, ok. Still, they are obviously not the ones that should watch this movie. And where no maliciousness was intended, why would people object?
    This film stands on its own feet as a work of art, BUILT ON, and not in any way claiming to represent in a full, comprehensive or dogmatically correct way, the ancient story.
    Art is not art if it does not provoke feelings. Since we come from different places, some peoples feelings are provoked in a negative way where others get good feelings from the same work.
    Nothing strange with that.
    What I see here is a well presented story, that with a humoristic twist shows that we are all perhaps more alike than we are different. cultures, ages and places notwithstanding.

  • ¡™

    I think it’s hilarious that despite the fact that her ex-husband is/was an animator as well, no one knows or cares who he is and meanwhile Nina is becoming more famous for pointing out that he is scum via this beautiful epic.

    poetic justice. Nicely done!

  • Hardik Mehta

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    We feel hurt by knowing the Sita Sings the Blues broadcast, which hurt lots of hindu and non-hindu people by knowing that Nina just degraded and hurt sentiment other peoples feeling, who doesn’t have anything to do with her personal life.

    And we feel more bad that you are broadcasting, and supporting such attitude, which is hurting so many people around the world.

    Live and let live. Plz do not hurt or make hurt.

    We request you to stop broadcasting and remove it from your website.

    Hope you will respect people liberty & also at the same time take care that such incident, which is also devaluing your company image.

    Thank you & Have a nice day. (And let other also has nice day)

    Yours truly,
    - Hardik

  • Hindustani

    Nina the Hitlar (sorry Hitlar!!!).

    Due to Personal thing, act on someone cruelly without using any sense.

    Sita only can forgive her.

    VandeMataram

  • Cecilia S

    Amazing! I absolutely love the all the visuals! What a wonderful, brilliant feast for the eyes and imagination! Love the concepts brought together, and the how the different images, animation, narration, and especially the songs work together tell this story. Ingenious! I truly applaud Nina Paley and her creativity!

  • Nikki

    I absolutely loved Sinta Sings The Blues!!!!

  • Satish

    Seafarer on March 24th, 2009 puts it in perspective.
    Live and let live.
    Let us enjoy democracy and free speech as the precious things they are.

  • motu

    I was born and raised as a Hindu – those people that are criticizing this movie are blind – “None so blind as refuses see”. Hindu religion like all others have stories and myths and a fanatic acceptance by the followers of the religion. By making this movie – Nina Paley tries to open your eyes to your own shortsightedness in believing blindly – like a blind man led by a leash; except there is no dog at the other end – just your dogma!
    Most enlightened and educated Indians that I know have loved this movie – Keep up the good work Nina.

  • Dev

    This is ingenious – I loved the different animation/ art styles. This has to be one of the most creative takes I’ve seen on the Ramayana.

    As for all you self-appointed protectors of the faith claiming that Sita Sings the Blues hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus, you only speak for yourselves – I hope you will learn to put your insecurities aside and learn to appreciate such creativity.

    Nina, you ought to be proud – thanks for giving this to us all.

  • Kevin

    Fantastic, an enjoyable blend of styles. All those criticizing this film for “misrepresenting” their fiction of choice need to realize that this film does a great job of introducing the story to a new audience. Most of the parts you’re getting worked up over are clearly done tongue-in-cheek, lending a casual and humorous tone to the piece. Though this may bother you, I think it really helped to convey the story. If you consider it to be more than a mere story, then sure, perhaps this isn’t for you, but those of use with critical reasoning skills can enjoy it just as it is. Thanks for sharing this film!

  • healigan’s home

    My high school students loved it, and it fit perfectly into my World Lit syllabus–we are all still hearing the songs in our heads. I have seldom seen something so beautiful and unique that also adheres to its heritage. Thank you, Nina!

  • Daya

    Good therapy.

    But Nina you are not a Sita.
    Remember:
    “Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy” was a phrase spoken during the 1988 United States vice-presidential debate by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Republican vice-presidential candidate Senator Dan Quayle.
    Exactly.

  • Nick

    To all of the people who claim that If Nina Paley had chosen a Muslim or Christian text as her subject matter she would be in fear for her life have payed a huge compliment to Hindus around the world, and by default have cast shame on the former two traditions. If someone’s faith is unable to withstand free expression, then maybe they are not “true” believers.

  • Márcia W.

    Awesome! Beautiful to every tiny detail! What a wonderful and humourous way to re-tell a story that belongs to us all humans. And the sound score!!! Hats off! I wish Nina the best luck in her new projects whatever they may be.

  • Vijay

    Awesome,brilliant.How can I get it on my Facebook??

  • Roopa

    This is so beautiful to watch! I enjoyed every minute of the intricate animation.

  • mark oppenneer

    Thank you so much for sharing this work freely with the world, Nina. I am simply mesmerized. Thank you also to the folks above who have taken time to educate us about Hindu ways of knowing and thinking instead of simply attacking Nina or her work. It is a testament to Sita Sings the Blues that it can generate such rich discourse.

  • Drakar

    The movie is now available for download as a burnable DVD image – check the movie’s website and look on the wiki for a link. It fits on one blank DVD and contains 8 subtitle languages, the director commentary, full menus with chapters, plus some extra goodies.

    As a side-note, I find the prior onslaught of people using one-name pseudonyms, attacking the movie as “blasphemous”, “hurtful”, (and one person mis-spelled “hitler” in a particularly ridiculous comparison), to be troubling. Of the people who come here to post attacks about the movie, I’d guess 90% of them haven’t watched it, and are only here after reading about it on some mailing list. The other 10% watched parts of the movie, making a rash decision based on their pre-concieved notions. I wish people would open their eyes and ears and observe before bashing.

  • Ndrew73

    The connection between the oldie Anne Henshaw’s soundtrack/American/Indian/Techno Themes is amazing.. I know a little about the director, hence – the cynicism in interpretation of Ramayana.. AWESOME movie… could not stop watching being sober. Although recommend watching being slightly buzzed:)

  • Andrew

    Excellent. It’s genius.. it goes so many places, and yet always seems coherent. Why the angry comments? As the Indian narrators working out the story say, “it probably has as much truth as the Bible.” The point of religion is to illuminate parallels to modern existence, to guide our current actions by comparing them to those of the past. There is no greater respect that one can show for a religion than to show how it is eternally relevant. I think this movie was very well done, especially for an indie film largely made by one woman. Love the music too.

  • davecarpets

    Loved the film. As for the posts I read I loved them too… To communicate is a necessity.

  • Pooja

    Good news! Sita Sings the Blues is now available on DVD! Get it from Amazon or Netflix.

    FilmKaravan, in partnership with Vista India Digital Media, proudly presents its first DVD release — the beautifully animated and wittily narrated debut feature film from Nina Paley, SITA SINGS THE BLUES — through Amazon, Netflix and a vast network of South Asian wholesale stores nationwide. Brimming with charm, humor and a soundtrack comprised entirely of haunting vocals from 1920s jazz legend, Annette Hanshaw, whose old jazz and blues recordings give voice to Sita, this adult-friendly cartoon offers a personal and thoroughly modern adaptation of the great Indian epic, The Ramayana.

    For more information, visit http://www.filmkaravan.com

  • dojoro

    Terrific! Can’t wait for more stories about the culture of India … there are so many interesting stories of gods and goddesses and people with fabulous color. Thanks, channel 13 for this opportunity to watch online … and down load … terrific.

  • cecile

    it was the perfect accompaniment for a Trader Joe’s Indian Fare soup.loved it.

  • Nikki

    I am sooooo glad that you are airing this wonderful film again.

  • parsley

    Absolutely loved the cinematography. I couldn’t take my eyes of the screen. I didn’t know the story line of “Ramayana”, so did she kill herself at the end? Modern day story crossing over Sita’s story was confusing ‘cuz the situation was different eventhough both had broken heart… Sad love story put together very creative way. Knowing Ramayana is an indian ancient religious epic, some indian people might get offended. Like when Madonna made a video which black Jesus appears and burned the cross…. But I loved this brilliant movie. Thanks THIRTEEN.

  • parsley

    I just learned that she is swallowed by the earth after proving her innocence.

    That was what the last scene about…..

  • gabrielle

    really amazing film. thanks so much for airing! i laughed the whole time.

  • Becca

    I came across the broadcast by accident. It is magic. The animation and color are glorious. Although I was turning on the TV in a distracted moment, the images and visual flow stunned me, then I began to understand the story (braided stories), and now I love having experienced Sita Sings the Blues.

  • Noam

    To our Hindu brethren who feel offended, I believe there has been a misunderstanding. This work of art – was intended – as it was conceived by a westerner – to come to terms with events in her own life by using the mythological model of a religious sacred text. It was not meant to be a faithful retelling of the epic. It was an inspired work of art, which allowed the artist a path of healing and moving on. It was offered as such, as a piece of art inspired by a love for a religious epic from a culture foreign from her own. I found it beautiful and heartbreaking, even as I found the epic itself. One must remember that these people were incarnated gods in flesh, who were born into history to solve a particular problem, while modeling the perfect behavior for people in specific roles. Sita was the model for the perfect wife, and Rama was the model of the perfect king. I also believe that Rama did not doubt Sita, but had to do those things to save his kingdom – his highest duty as a king. The west is learning to open to, find a love for, and embrace to epics of India. It would be best to view it in this light, in my opinion.

  • Gaya

    I love this movie and enjoyed it even though I had missed most of the starting. Hope to watch it again soon in it’s entirety. I would love to have this as part of an evening with my friends an some Indian food, cannot wait. Thank you!

  • Andy

    Creatively, the film was absolutley brilliant – awesome – loved it.

    However, some aspects of the film did make me cringe (especially the sarcastic diatribe between the narraters). I think that this story does NOT portray Ramayana in a positive light. The way the Hindu literature (scriptures, texts, mythology etc) are written is very SYMBOLIC – ie the stories are never meant to be taken at face value – but it should be interpreted in the correct context – which obviously means that the Ramayana & Mahabharata do incorporate some poetic license (and they are classified officially also as poems). This was necessary to ensure that the larger illiterate population during the 2000-3000 BC period understand the easier and dumbed down version of the broader principles. Hence to try to make perfect sense of every aspect of the storyline or sub-plot is losing the larger picture and the broader message that it purports to convey. This is probably true of all religions and their literature & texts.

    So this exact movie could have been made and equally successfully without the sarcastic jibes at Ramayana – I guarantee you this movie will not be able to be released in India (there will be riots) – though without the sarcasm this could have been a model for new age creativity and interpretation of Ramayana and helped immensely in upliftment of women in India as well.

  • Andy – rejoinder to earlier post

    I just found out that Nina Paley is not an Indian – (was under the impression that she was an American born woman of Indian descent). This reflects even more badly on her as she has a higher bar to surpass to try and understand the epic in depth and depict it more respectfully to reflect the foreign culture appropriately.

    The next time she gets dumped by her man, I suggest she use a story from the bible, Torah or Quran – will be interesting to see the reaction of people of those faiths.

  • michele

    I love it. I want this movie.

  • Shiva

    So I would like to represent for the Hindus too. I grew up a Hindu. I have never lived in India, but I have been there. To write me off as a ‘Westernized’ Hindu who has been brainwashed by white Christians would be a sad and inaccurate interpretation of me and how I think, as I have grown up all over the world with friends from every thought process and culture imaginable.

    I grew up with all the stories around me, including the Ramayan. As an Indian woman (same caste for generations, not mixed at all, raised in the Hindu faith) who has lived and grown up all around the world – the US, England, Singapore, South Africa, Zambia, Brazil, Mexico, I feel that I can comment back to the different people who claim to be Hindus who have tried to belittle this film. So this is what I have to say:

    I thought Nina’s depiction of the Ramayan was beautiful and interesting for several reasons. Firstly, the Ramayan is never told from the perspective of Sita, because as the name implies, it is supposed to be a story about Ram. However, this story has been used to discuss the role of women in Indian society for generations. Women have to be faithful to men, like Sita was, follow them, regardless of the disrespect that is shown them by men. Some commenters have said that ‘well Ram didn’t doubt her purity, he just left her because of his kingdom’. Well, this is the whole point. He put her LAST. As a religious story, the symbolism and meaning becomes more important than the individual actions of the characters. Meaning that if Sita is a representation of how women are supposed to act in society, then Ram becomes a representation of how men are supposed to act. Ram, a king and God incarnate, had to put his wife last because of what other people might have been thinking about him and his wife. Instead of being a REAL man and standing up to his kingdom and the deep sexism of people insulting his wife to insult him, saying that she has been faithful to him always and she is the queen of the kingdom and a Goddess, so RESPECT her, he banishes her to the forest, WHILE SHE IS PREGNANT. Here is another flaw with the story – if Ram is God incarnate, wouldn’t he KNOW she was pure? And if he did know that, why didn’t he have the strength to stand up to a kingdom to honor his queen, a Goddess, and the Mother of his children?

    I have never really liked this story because as a woman period and as a woman of color (in the ‘West’), I have had a constant battle against people trying to disempower me or assume I am stupid or somehow less because I am a woman – men AND women do this, because society has been brainwashed into thinking that there are fixed roles that men and women have to play in society. This story, as it is traditionally told, reinforces that conception. If you want to see an Indian/Hindu criticism of the Ramayan and Sita’s role in it, check out the movie “Fire”.

    I think Nina’s story does great justice to Sita in a way I have never seen before. She shows Sita as strong – she was so strong that she never bent to anyone’s will, not even the king of the devils. Her love was so pure, and she was so strong, that she was strong enough to maintain her love for Ram (God) even after he abandoned her. She was so strong and so pure that she taught her sons to sing praises for her father. Nina shows Ram in a way that I have always imagined him – more concerned with the role that he should be playing in society based on the position he was born into (prince, God incarnate, man) than as the person that he chose to become in life, which in this story is husband and father. And isn’t that the perenial difference between ‘West’ and ‘East’? Supposedly, Westerners are too independent, and Easterners are too concerned with the public or the family’s good/opinion. In reality, I think there needs to be a finely conceived balance between both – live your OWN life. This is actually the purest essence of Hindu philosophy, which teaches methods for reaching self enlightenment. The idea is that by purifying, strengthening, loving, and empowering the self, one can make society a more harmonious, loving, and peaceful place. This goes for men AND women, not just men, with women staying at home to cook and clean while men philosophize and try to find Nirvana.

    I thought that this animation depicted the inherent love, strength, beauty and fragility of women. I thought it showed Sita as a powerful being, and as a Goddess. This is never how you are taught to think of Sita in traditional Hindu tradition. Maybe as a Goddess, but she is more a Goddess by association with Ram, and not portrayed as a Goddess in her own right. Yes, I know there are many different ways to practise Hinduism, but none of the traditions I have come into contact with have depicted the Ramayan through Sita’s eyes, other than to show how devoted she was to Ram. And while I have always known more or less the whole Ramayan, I never realized that the story ended by her proving the purity of her self, soul, and love for Ram (God) by choosing to be reabsorbed by the Womb of the Goddess Mother Planet Earth. I think that is incredibly beautiful AND empowering, and I think the way that Nina did it – by singing a song of pure love and joy for love of Ram before committing herself back to the Womb of the Planet, and then showing Ram realizing with 1 tear the error of his ways (I don’t think that part is actually in the Ramayan).

    I am the first one to criticize incompetent Western portrayals of the culture and faith I was raised in, because there are plenty and they upset me greatly. But I thought that Nina was very respectful, and indeed, very empowering of a Goddess figure that has always been shown to be meek, dutiful, and disposable to the good of society. I will now look at the story of Ramayan with new eyes.

    So thank you Nina for your work. I think it is beautiful on many different levels.

  • Shiva

    Corrections to my comment:

    Firstly, I want to add that I have dealt with sexism, but seen my mom, aunties and grandmothers live through it to degrees much more intense than what even I have experienced.

    2. typo here: “ons to sing praises for her father”, i meant to say THEIR father.

    3. change this: finely conceived balance between both – live your OWN life. to : live your OWN life and respect the lives of others.

    4. forgot to end a sentence in the 2nd to last paragraph, so am ending it her: I think the way that Nina did it – by singing a song of pure love and joy for love of Ram before committing herself back to the Womb of the Planet, and then showing Ram realizing with 1 tear the error of his ways (I don’t think that part is actually in the Ramayan) – was interesting, beautiful, and respectful to both Ram and Sita. It ended by showing love – pure love.

  • kabir mustafi

    work on it pl.

  • sharma

    Hi
    Before I post my comment here, let me give some details about my background.
    I am an Indian born and brought up in an orthodox south Indian Brahmin family in Karnataka, studied samskritam at the primary school level through my science graduation and still work and live in Bangalore. I have nothing but admiration towards Ms Nina’s effort in exploring the Ramayana and Sita’s story from her point of view. After watching the film I felt the utmost pride of my Indian heritage which i have never felt before to such extent as of now. Keep up the good work. Cheers from a humble citizen of Bharat, the land which has produced priceless treasures like Ramayana and Mahabharata.

  • poonam

    Two thumbs up!

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  • Jennifer

    Brillant film and very creative storytelling. I love the imagery. The music is fabulous.

  • Anda

    Even though i am not hindu, i think people try to appreciate the fact that artist had not here depicted Ramayana, rather a totally different story, where Ramayana (or Annete Hanshow) is just an anchor for the feeling, an inspiration, a point of departure, for the film. It might be hard to separate film from the ancient text it refers to — but in this world we should appreaciate an overall beautifully made movie, which manages to connect stories across generations, and that brings elements of hindu culture (sush the pluracity some mentioned, through the commentaries on the Sita’s story) to the wider audience. Thank you, Nina, wonderful film, i am watching 4th time, probably also because of the beautiful soundtrack as well. Thank you!

  • bubbles

    Amazing animation and music score. However you missed out entirely on the lakshman rekha.. which according to me was an important part of the story.

  • Rich S

    Congratulations on the great reveiw in the NY Times

    This movie has been designated a Critic’s Pick by the film reviewers of The Times.

    Nina Paley

    December 25, 2009
    Legendary Breakups: Good (Animated) Women Done Wrong in India

    By A. O. SCOTT
    Published: December 25, 2009

    Animation is, at heart, the simplest form of cinema: a flutter of drawings fooling the eye into seeing motion. Nowadays, at least at feature length, the form tends to be a much bigger deal, with every year bringing can-you-top-this spectacles full of noisy, shiny figures and images.

    “Sita Sings the Blues,” Nina Paley’s new film, which arrives in New York on Friday trailing festival love, is certainly ambitious and visually loaded. There are songs, bright colors and a story taken in part from one of the biggest, oldest epics in the world. But it is also modest, personal and, in spite of Ms. Paley’s use of digital vector graphic techniques, decidedly handmade. A Pixar or DreamWorks extravaganza typically concludes with a phone book’s worth of technical credits. Ms. Paley did everything in “Sita” — an amazingly eclectic, 82-minute tour de force — by herself.

    Well, she didn’t sing the songs. Instead, she selected recordings from the early jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, whose voice, poised between heartbreak and soigné resignation, sets a mood of longing for this multilayered tale of love gone wrong. This music also provides an unlikely but seductive accompaniment to the main story, which comes from the Ramayana, an ancient and voluminous Indian epic.

    Its hero is the blue-skinned Rama, avatar of the deity Vishnu, but Ms. Paley is more interested in Sita, his wife, whose devotion becomes both a romantic inspiration and a feminist cautionary tale. Her adventures are narrated by three shadow puppets who speak in the accents of modern Indian English and who quibble over details and interpretations.

    Meanwhile, Sita, Rama and other characters from the Ramayana are rendered in various styles, including a “Betty Boop Goes Bollywood” look for the musical numbers and an illuminated-manuscript manner for the dramatic scenes.

    All of this is entwined with the simpler, sadder, more drably drawn chronicle of a woman named Nina, whose longtime boyfriend, Dave, takes a job in India and eventually breaks her heart. This is a stripped-down, modernized variation on what happens to Sita, whose absolute love for Rama is repaid with suspicion, a humiliating trial by fire (to test her purity) and banishment. Hanshaw, crooning after inconstant or unkind lovers, completes the picture.

    Not that “Sita Sings the Blues” will leave you wallowing in transhistorical, multicultural woe. On the contrary: Ms. Paley takes the pain in stride, and uses it as an occasion for whimsy and inventiveness. The movie’s playful spirit may represent a bit of defiant payback for whatever actual Dave may be out there; it shows that sometimes formal ingenuity can be the best revenge.

    And the ingenuity of “Sita” — which evokes painting, collage, underground comic books, Mumbai musicals and “Yellow Submarine” (for starters) — is dazzling. Not busy, or overwhelming, or eye-popping. Just affecting, surprising and a lot of fun.

    SITA SINGS THE BLUES

    Opens on Friday in Manhattan.

    Written, directed, animated and edited by Nina Paley; music sung by Annette Hanshaw; released by Gkids. At the IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas, at Third Street, Greenwich Village. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes. This film is not rated.

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  • Olga

    Dear editorial staff,

    Please, take another look at the comment posted by Sam on December 7th, 2009. Is this comment appropriate enough in nature and fairness?..

  • watchandwait

    Please remove the pornographic posts of ‘sushant’ and ‘sam’. They are offensive to other viewers.
    Nina Paley’s movie is based on the Ramayana and her own experiences, and is a work of art, not a religious document. And yes, there have been plenty of comic versions of Jesus, Moses, and God in Western tradition.
    You are welcome to dislike this movie but I request that you (a) Watch it; and (b) use civil discourse and argument to state your objections, as some other people have.
    And if your culture is truly strong, a cartoon won’t destroy it.