I first read about Sita Sings the Blues, a grassroots animated interpretation of the Indian epic Ramayana, when Roger Ebert wrote about it on his blog, but assumed I would never see it. I can’t say I was incredibly disturbed by this since I am in a similar boat as Roger who refers to the large amount of movies writers in this industry receive on a daily basis, “I carefully file it with other movies I will watch when they introduce the 8-day week.” Seriously, sometimes it is hard to believe this many movies are made.
However, Roger was compelled to watch it by a friend of his and ultimately says, “I put on the DVD and start watching. I am enchanted. I am swept away. I am smiling from one end of the film to the other. It is astonishingly original. It brings together four entirely separate elements and combines them into a great whimsical chord.”
The question is, do you want to have a similar experience? Well, you can… and right now.
Early Saturday morning Brendon Connelly at SlashFilm pointed out the film is now legally available online at Reel 13 and it will also be available in many more formats by March 7th, as reported on Nina Paley’s blog.
Who is Nina Paley, well she is the writer, director, producer, designer and animator of Sita Sings the Blues and therein lies the even deeper story behind this little tale.
The reason the film is offered online for free is because copyright holders are holding up distribution over music rights. As pointed out by QuestionCopyright.org, in order to release Sita, the monopoly holders for some of the musical compositions used in the film have to be paid off (yes, even though the songs were written in the 1920s). The approximate cost of this will be US $50,000 (negotiations are still under way). Nina is taking out a loan to pay this up front; funds raised will go toward paying off that loan and toward other expenses related to distribution. You can see right here donations as of the writing of this post are around $7,750.
As for the quality of the feature, I just finished watching it and must say it was certainly unique and if you take notice of the image at the top of this post it gives you a look at the three shadow puppet narrators (voiced by Aseem Chhabra, Bhavana Nagulapally and Manish Acharya) of the story and they are HILARIOUS. They are, in my opinion, reason enough to watch the 81 minute feature. From the moment they appear they are debating when the story happens, what “long ago” means and how to pronounce the names of the characters in the story and even debate the legitimacy of it all.
“Why was he cold to Sita?” one asks.
“Actually I’m very shaky on this point –”
“You could make it up…” so he does. It is classic stuff.
At about the one hour and seven minute mark the film even breaks down what He’s Just Not That Into You tried to do in two hours — Sita Sings the Blues does it in five seconds.
Hope you take a moment to check it out.
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 email. 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.”