Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues

I have really something great to share. This time about a film titled ‘Sita Sings the Blues’. This movie is remarkable not for only it’s feature-length animated treatment of the Ramayana, that has well worth every minute of your time, or  just for wonderful elements of mythology with the winsome voice of Jazz singer Annette Henshaw.

This  film is remarkable because it shows how one person with a laptop and something to say can make a masterpiece. This is  more remarkable because of it’s attitude to a film as a part of open source.

This film was  directed by Nina Paley, an American cartoonist, animator and free culture activist. She was the artist and often the writer of comic strips Nina’s Adventures and Fluff, but most of her recent work has been in animation. She released this film on the Internet under the Creative Commons License.

This movie uses an unique distribution system. It was released for free download starting in early March, 2009 “at all resolutions, including broadcast-quality, HD, and film-quality image sequences”, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-alike 3.0 Unported license. The freely downloaded files will count as “promotional copies” and will thus be exempt from payments to the copyright holders of the songs.

She puts a welcome note on movie’s official site:

I hereby give Sita Sings the Blues to you. Like all culture, it belongs to you already, but I am making it explicit with a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. Please distribute, copy, share, archive, and show ‘Sita Sings the Blues’. From the shared culture it came, and back into the shared culture it goes. You don’t need my permission to copy, share, publish, archive, show, sell, broadcast, or remix Sita Sings the Blues. Conventional wisdom urges me to demand payment for every use of the film, but then how would people without money get to see it? How widely would the film be disseminated if it were limited by permission and fees? Control offers a false sense of security. The only real security I have is trusting you, trusting culture, and trusting freedom.

‘Sita Sings the Blues’ has won a number of awards.  Though it creates a lot controversy around it. In April 2009, a group called the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti started a petition demanding “a complete ban on the movie and initiation of legal action against all those who have been involved in production and marketing of this derogatory act against the entire Hindu community.

Eminent critic and writer Amitava Kumar worte abot this film:

The film returns us to the message that is made clear by every village-performance of the Ramlila: the epics are for everyone. Also, there is no authoritative narration of an epic. This film is aided by three shadow puppets who, drawing upon memory and unabashedly incomplete knowledge, boldly go where only pundits and philosophers have gone before. The result is a rendition of the epic that is gloriously a part of the everyday.