I first learned about cartoonist Nina Paley’s animated retelling of the Ramayana, a classic Indian myth (it’s 3,000 years old), called “Sita Sings the Blues,” through an Idol Chatter post by Aseem Chhabra who has a personal relationship to the film. I was reminded of the full length feature, by a recent New York Times article, “Hindu Goddess as Betty Boop? It’s Personal” by Margy Rochlin, who brings us some happy news: “Sita Sings the Blues” will air on March 7th on PBS (WNET) in New York.Of Paley’s self-produced, self-made film, Rochlin writes: “As engaging as the film is, explaining it is tricky: along with traditional 2-D animation there are cutouts, collages, photographs and scenes with hand-painted watercolors as the backdrop. At certain points Ms. Paley mixes laughs with exposition by having three flat silhouette characters dispute the details of the Ramayana’s tragic saga of the Hindu goddess Sita, who is exiled by her husband, Rama, who fears she has been unfaithful after she is abducted by a demon king. At other points Ms. Paley weaves in the story of her own collapsing marriage, and the time switches from ancient India to present-day San Francisco and Manhattan, the images hand-drawn and jittery. In between everything else are flash-animation musical numbers featuring Sita in voluptuous Betty Boop-like form — almond-shaped head, saucer eyes and swaying hips — accompanied by the warbling voice of a real-life flapper-era singer named Annette Hanshaw.”To see just how Betty Boop-like Paley makes this Hindu goddess, check out the trailer:.And be sure to tune in to PBS on March 7th for a full viewing.
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