Friday WatchAlong: Sita Sings the Blues! Starting at 5pm Chicago Time, Right Here

Yaaaay! I love love love LOVE this movie. And feel a little possessive about it, the filmmaker started putting up her little music videos on youtube while she was still finishing the film, and I watched them back then while she was slowly spinning them out. I was so excited when it turned into a film festival darling and everyone was talking about it!

I work in the morning, I do the Grandpa birthday car ride and presents, I come and watch this, and then I go off and meet a friend to go for a walk in the park. Phew! Such a busy Friday! Anyway, link below, hit “Play” at 5pm and watch along with me!

133 thoughts on “Friday WatchAlong: Sita Sings the Blues! Starting at 5pm Chicago Time, Right Here

  1. This is the fire god, one of the super super old gods, they lit the fire to call on him as witness, and he saved her proving that he backed up her virtue and Ram was wrong.

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  2. I think there are some versions of the Ramayana that just end with this, they go home and are Happy Happy. Brings up the question of if there is some “must punish Sita” motive behind taking on the second ending, or just random different versions as the oral traditions evolved.

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  3. There’s an argument that their marriage wasn’t consumated until after they returned from exile. Ram’s “coming of age” was what set everything off, because part of it would be him being made the official heir, which made his stepmom jealous so she had him exiled. So they couldn’t consumate because he wasn’t of age, and then they couldn’t consumate because it wasn’t allowed during their exile when they had to “live as priests” or whatever. And then she was with Raavan. So, FINALLY, they get to have sex, she gets pregnant, and then he throws her out immediately.

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    • He knows it’s wrong. Lakshman and Sita have a sweet relationship, he respects her deeply, and obeys her second to Ram. Also, he is married to her sister, which has got to make it more complicated for him.

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  4. Another interpretation is that Sita was always happier in banishment than in the palace. She wasn’t born a princess, she was found by a farmer in his field, birthed by the earth. He took her to the palace where the king adopted her. She is always described as being super happy in the first exile, not missing her comforts or anything, liking the forest. So this second exile is her returning to where she is happiest and most at peace.

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  5. Luv and Kush! Shatrughan Sinha (Sonakshi Sinha’s father) named his twin boys after them. Which always felt odd to me because Shatrughan is named for one of Ram’s brothers, so naming his kids after Ram’s kids is like naming them after his nephew?

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  6. To be fair to Ram, in his version of the story, he sent away the wife who made him happy (right after finally having sex) in order to please his people. And then he never remarried, instead had a gold statue of Sita made that he used as his “wife” in ceremonies. His greatest sacrifice/act as a ruler was to give up love and happiness to please his people. And he did it while remaining faithful to her memory.

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  7. Remember, she was born of the earth, so her ending is to return from the enormous powers that first created her.

    Standard interpretation of this whole story is that Raavan was unbalancing the powers of earth and Ram was created and set to earth to defeat him, and sita was sent to be the motivation. But there is another interpretation where SITA is the important one who controls it all. She sends Ram away after the deer on purpose, knowing Raavan will kidnap her. And then it is the time she is with Raavan that defeats him, her goodness and strength weaken him long before Ram shows up (“it was beauty killed the beast”) kind of thing. Everyone is just a pawn in Sita’s game.

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  8. Guy with the magic penis and snake hair is Shiva. I know that at least. Because he has a magic penis, that’s the kind of thing it is easy to remember.

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  9. I forgot about that, we do get a sense of the humanity and sadness of Ram. that’s nice, she leave sit open for that other version to exist, where Ram is sad all his life missing Sita.

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  10. Wonderful! Now I’ve got a big want to rewatch Raavanan again after this since Vikram makes such a sexy brooding Raavanan. Thank you Margaret for this! Never seen this before so this was all new. Thank you so much!

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  11. Thank you so much Margaret. I hope your Grandpa’s party was lovely. I’m sorry I missed a bit in the middle. A friend came by to pick up my son and had a nervous breakdown… 6 feet of distance was maintained while providing verbal comfort at all times… It is really such a wonderful film.

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    • Oh my! Good reason to take a break. And glad you could come back to a happy light movie.

      And Grandpa’s “party” was nice, we took him for a drive, parked by the lake and gave presents, then they drove me back for this.

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  12. Just looked up the narrators. One of them, Aseem Chhabra, is a journalist and wrote the book (literally) on Shashi Kapoor. And then Manish Acharya is the Loins of Punjab guy. And the woman is NOBODY. I can find nothing public on the internet about her, I think she isn’t a movie connected type person, maybe just a friend of the filmmaker who joined in the conversationw ith the other two.

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  13. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE: Devdutt Patianiak. He is truly the only author I would recommend. He takes the legends and breaks them down into simple short separate stories, as they were probably told orally, not just one never ending epic. He also provides multiple slightly conflicting versions and acknowledges that they are conflicting because there is no One True Version. And they are really really well-written. And now he has a streaming show somewhere talking about the stories.

    Anyway, he has a little book on Ram, and a big Big book called “Sita”, and another big Big book Mahabharata. If you get those, I recommend reading one or two stories a day and then taking a break, don’t try to do the whole thing, do it in bite size pieces.

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  14. I could not be there with the watchalong,but I looooove this film.So much that I am going to comment,I didn’t sign a stamp paper while requesting to delete my comments(besides,there is so much good here).It is such a irreverent take,and kinda like Hulu’s The Great,where modern elements enter the realm of myth without the pretense of authenticity.When you have Sita singing the “BLUES”,anyone expecting the same age old interpretation is in the wrong place.
    It was kinda hilarious to make Rama a douche because he was kinda…hard to follow principled guy.Like,I am not gonna give away my kingdom if my father wants it and I am definitely not going to give away a kingdom after winning it because Vibheeshana has a rightful claim blah blah.And interestingly they show Rama being grumpy when he has to give up Sita,which makes sense.Why should a king compromise his personal life for a fisherman?(Many interpretations show Ram wrong for exiling Sita so this movie technically isn’t the first to address the issue.But none of them showed Ram blaming Ayodhya for his problem so that was new.)
    And I didn’t get the uproar over it.Like here Luv Kush sang a song in adoration of Ram.But in the very famous Ramanand Sagar interpretation,Luv Kush sang a song but the moment they saw Sita’s statue they got really angry and scolded Rama(they knew Sita the Queen,but didn’t know she was their mother).There was also a long drawn battle between Luv Kush and Ayodhya over an Ashvamegha horse,where the kids taunted them for their hypocrisy.It was a dialogue in the show itself,”how can a man who left his wife be considered righteous”.There is no excuse given,sad music plays in backgroun,Ram has a 1000 yard stare and speaks nothing.There was an Indian animated movie on Luv Kush where they showed Ram exiling Sita on earth,and in the heavens Parvati got extremely angry and decided to punish Ayodhya itself until Shiva calmed her,so she outright questions the moral hypocrisy of men claiming “vidhi”and greater good stuff when it comes to mistreatment of women.And it was not like Shiva gives an explanation,he just lowers his eyes in defeat.So yeah,right wingers claiming that it distorts history need to see the shows that have already mentioned it a gazillion times.And that is the problem-the book doesn’t put what you need to feel.Like Tulsidas wrote Ramcharitmanas as he felt peace in God,and wanted to make him comprehensible to the common folks in regional language,just like Surdas who was literally born blind and wrote about childhood of Krishna in such detail you would think he worked at a creche.Hindu texts should be open to interpretation for all as they are very non linear.Like,I read Mahabharata(in Hindi) and by the time I reached the end I had forgotten the beginning quite a bit.But it is not like Arjuna is shown as a hero,he is humbled multiple times.At one point it is straightaway said that Arjuna is the best warrior,at another point he is said not to be even 10%of Karna.So the text itself isn’t like there are five Pandavas and 100 Kauravas,heroes and villains,this good this bad,it is just there but doesn’t explain who is better or worse.The only character who is glorified are Vidur(who is literally the perfect guy,even the helpless feminist in Draupadi fiasco,He is my favourite human character from Mahabharata.If you get time,try to read about him.The most sensible guy of all,unfortunately the one whom everyone ignores)and Yudhisthir,who makes dumbest choices.But he is also the only guy who is ready to stall the war because of the suffering it brings.And there is also a lot of dialogues on PTSD of warriors which no modern interpretation depicted.Like there is an entire parva(chapter,there are 18 parvas and this one in my opinion is the most important)about war fatigued soldiers discussing their problems,future challenges and philosophy.It sounds unnecessary and might be something that NOBODY here might be aware of(if I am wrong in my guess,that’s a great thing),but ignoring it in modern interpretations is like leaving out 1/18 of the text.Even Pandavas temporarily go to hell for their shortcomings,so the book doesn’t make them outright heroic.In Ramayana Ravan is praised several times as a Shiv devotee.Meghnad is praised as a son as good as Ram because he knew fighting Ram would equal defeat still he sides with his father.These texts cannot be understood as stories but as loosely connected passages that are just string together with the story as an excuse.People speaking in flowery proses was there as political commentaries,and an average reader dismisses them as boring unnecessary stuff.Ramayana should not be interpreted as a one man show as it is not written that way.Ravan is condemned for something at one moment then praised for it the other moment.So upholders of “culture”canNOT take it from a character approache.Ramayana is not written like Odyssey so nothing is written as Ram,the hero.It is more like circumstances,and Ram a king reacts.Everything runs on circumstances.These texts are more about weird life situations and how people reacted to it.It is not saying we should follow them,it is saying he did that,that’s what she said,people reacted.Now try to find meaning in the stuff shrugged as unnecessary prose which is actually the crux.But for some reason fanatics don’t understand that literally every single show has Ram being admonished for his choice.If they were not questioned,why an animated film.(Even Ekta Kapoor,the queen of regressive ITV had the courtesy to approach the exile with modern sensitivity instead of glorifying it in her affiliate shows).
    The only thing that could have been avoided was the Betty Boop-esque design of Sita.I would love something more Belle or Megara like.Even something from a painting in Ajanta.From an animation perspective,the flatness of the backgrounds and 1930s ness of Sita don’t blend well at all.Compare it to Laxmi shown in the beginning,who looks less out of focus while being a character herself.Even Nina has a better character design and stands out instead of sticking out.Besides Betty Boop reminds me of those lecherous men satisfying their urges through cartoons,which,ugh.The issue is Betty Boop doesn’t strike Indian at all-1930s art is what comes to mind.Compared to the amazing illustrations in the background or the dancing goddess(even she looks more “Indian”somehow),she sticks out.Including some angles in her otherwise extremely circular features(down to her eyes)would make it less grating.It doesn’t work as well as,say,the round fairies in the extremely angular world of Sleeping Beauty or even the different character designs in the Secret of Kells movie.The character designs in Paley’s second movie were a lot more cohesive.

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    • Margaret,please block this particular ID that I am commenting with.I was getting spam mails,and someone misused my ID so please block it.I will be continuing with a different one here,the one with which I commented on the recent Saturday Small Talk(if you got any hate comments from this ID,please remove them as it wasn’t me.A similar issue happened where someone misused it on another blog for vulgar hate speech.That incident and the spams are weird,so to be on a safer side I am asking this.

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  15. So I was on her blog site, and looking at pictures of her time in India, and then the internet went down and I couldn’t figure out how got the the pictures… But I did get to see the boyfriend, DAN. And she was in KERALA! And it was gorgeous. After I got internet back, while I was searching for the photos I discovered she animated the video of one of the Loins of Punjab songs: https://blog.ninapaley.com/category/loins-of-punjab-presents/

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    • Yes! I knew about the Loins of Punjab connection (thus the director being one of her puppets), but I had no idea that the infamous Dan/Dave was photographed! That poor man.

      On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 5:51 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  16. Oh, and the kids and I watched her more recent film Seder-Masochism this morning, which was SO GREAT to watch with young boys. But there is so much for me to unpack there, as a person brought up Catholic who went to a 50% Jewish elementary school… I wonder if this is what it is like for Hindus watching Sita Sings the Blues.

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    • She finished it??? I just knew there were some song videos out on youtube. Well, there’s my project for the day.

      On Sun, Sep 13, 2020 at 5:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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