Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sita And Hearbreak

Finally got around to watching Sita Sings the Blues. Whether you are Hindu or not, familiar with any one of the many versions of Ramayan or not, you can connect with this film. Nina Paley makes the story of Sita and Rama (in that order) her own. She is not trying to interpret or retell the "original" story but rather projecting herself on Sita's character and discovering parallels between the end of her marriage and that of Ram and Sita.

The idea of introducing Annette Hanshaw's blues to hold the story together is a beautiful one. The sadness and pain of heartbreak is universal. Like one of the shadow puppet narrators in film says if a woman throws herself at a man who is clearly rejecting her, that is not unconditional love but her fault for not knowing the man is not worth the trouble. Yet, women have loved in the face of unfaithfulness, rejection, abuse and more. They have a hard time believing that their feelings are not reciprocated, that they have invested their love and emotions in the wrong place.

Sita's life could be interpreted by some as one of a woman who loved completely and unconditionally but the object of devotions was not a man who deserved what she had to offer. When a woman is dumped, irrespective of the specific circumstances ;leading up to this event, she views herself as grievously wronged and the pain is as Paley describes like a fire that can completely burn her life or fuel something new. Like Sita, she might want to return to the womb and start over. It is wonderful to see the story of Sita interpreted in way that is so accessible to everyone. True to her belief :
My first concern is Art, and Art has no life if people can’t share it, Nina Paley has given new life to something with limited reach and appeal.

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