The film tells the story of Nina’s ill-fated long distance relationship (and eventual break-up) to a boyfriend who was transfered to India on business. This part of the film is animated and drawn in Nina’s comic-strip, bigfoot style (above). She intercuts this story with the Indian legend of Ramayana – this told by three off-screen Indian contemporaries who hilariously try to remember all the little details. This part is animated in a paper cut-out collage style, using all manner of Hindu commercial imagery and iconography — not unlike Ward Kimball’s pop-art educationals (Music, Space, Birds, etc.). Within the Ramayana sections, Paley re-imagines certain plot points as elaborate musical-fantasy sequences, animated with Max-Fleischer-meets-UPA designs (see image below) set to a soundtrack of vintage 1929-era Annette Hanshaw recordings. Imagine Betty Boop in a Bollywood musical and you are close the mood Paley achieves.
And it all works. It works as a full length feature – It’s not a short stretched to fill over an hour. The film has a simple but strong personal story narrative, which many can relate to. It’s so clearly an independent film, not the tired product of a factory made, committee driven studio. Did I mention this film was made by one person, over a five year period, on her home computer? That fact alone makes Nina’s achievement here even more incredible – and refreshing.
Above it all, it’s fun. The film seems so effortlessly enjoyable in that same way all classic animation feels. I urge you to see the film when you can (in L.A. that means Oct. 13th at RedCat) and support Nina’s efforts to recoup her production expenses and find distribution. Sita Sings The Blues is an accomplishment to be celebrated by all who love animation.