Sita Sings the Blues

By Kevin Dodd


1. Nina Paley, for reasons that will become clear when one reads her website and when one hears how she uses some eleven songs sung by Annette Hanshaw from 1927-29 in the film, has placed Sita Sings the Blues on the internet to be streamed or downloaded for free.  See

2. Valmiki’s very famous rendition is available on the internet in a nineteenth-century translation by Ralph Griffith at the sacred texts site:



5. Technically they are known as Vanaras and are special creations of the gods.

6. The story is that she was found as a baby in a furough by the king, Janaka, who then adopted her as his daughter.  The ending of the narrative by Sita returning to the earth has more symmetry overall than Valmiki’s happy ending after the trial by fire and so the myth is usually told with both ordeals. 

7. This is brought to the forefront in Deepa Mehta’s movie masterpiece, Fire, released in 1996.  Equally problematic is the famous story of Sati, who publicly incinerates herself to protest the way her father has treated her husband, Shiva.  The story may be found in the Bhagavata Purana 4.3-4; see

8. In this review I have wanted to deal with the religious and social issues raised by the film, so I have not been able to convey how the uses of animation techniques, of internal commentary, and of musical scoring merge with the telling of the stories of Sita and Nina to create the overall effect of the movie.  Paley says repeatedly in interviews that she was trying to avoid boredom for her audience.  I may say that she succeeds admirably.

9. This is, of course, a reference to the Christological position known as “Docetism” from the Greek word “to seem.”

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