Monday, June 15, 2009

Greatest Break-Up Story Never Told

As a kid, we had bedtime stories read to us - usually sweet nostalgic fairy tales that comes complete with a happy ending. After endless trials and tribulations, the heroine is reunited with her handsome prince as he gathers her into his carriage to return to his bright shining palace for their happily-ever-after.

At least that's what we've all been brought up to think.

No one knows exactly what happens to the heroine of the piece after she arrives at the palace. Does she have a wicked mother-in-law in place of a haggard villain? Does she have to hock her glass slipper to pay for the shocking palace bills? Does she have to sweep and mop the endless marble floors on her own since her helpful birds and bees have eschewed the urban life?

Or even worse, does she get a husband who no longer trusts her?

These days even the heroes come with horns!

Eager to set such doubts and fears at rest, the bedtime stories told to us as children are usually heavily censored at best. Hence even the much-loved tale of Rama and Sita from the famed Indian epic the Ramayana has been shortened to give us the happy ending we all expect.

Simply put... Boy gets girl. Boy and girl get banished by jealous stepmother. Boy then loses girl to demon. Boy goes to find girl with a posse of friends, monkey-gods and brothers alike. Boy finds girl.

Cue happy ending.

You'd expect all to be well after our heroic Rama finally rescues the innocent Sita from the clutches of villainous Ravana! But it seems as if a seed of doubt has been planted in Rama's mind regarding his wife's famed virtuousness. A lil niggling seed even a trial by fire ( poor Sita has to leap into a burning pyre to prove herself ) can't obliterate.

These days Sita probably would have plenty to say.

Rama : How can I trust you after you've lived with another man!
Sita : I didn't book myself into a hotel. I was abducted! Ravana didn't exactly ask for my permission.
Rama : Prove yourself with a trial by fire!
Sita : So you expect me to immolate myself in a burning pyre? Seriously! And ruin my hair?
Rama : But you have to prove your virtue!
Sita : I don't have to prove anything! Thank God I read law while I was held captive in Lanka. Get ready to lose half of everything, Rama, and by that I mean that jungle shack, the monkey and your lil bow too.

So we have Nina Paley - much to the horror of religious fundamentalists - to fill in the blanks with the beautifully animated Sita Sings The Blues as she tries to tell the tale from the perspective of the oft-abused Sita. Obviously the husband Rama isn't spared much in this post-feminist revision.

And best of all, Sita sings the heartbreaking songs of 1920s jazz chanteuse Annette Hanshaw. Sweet, vulnerable yet terribly wise beyond her ears - a voice just perfect for our heroine Sita.


Ryan said...

Yes, I watched the clips. It's nice! And some parts are hilarious!

Bradley Jesse Hyunckel said...

a RPGs bedtime stories will be great to me,but it could be long...RPG addict

Paper Drawn Boy said...

Haha! your version is much more funnier and cuter than the play I saw...kudos!!

Life for Beginners said...

Wit and wisdom in such a winsome package... Yums. ;)

Bengbeng said...

It is always wise to look before you leap into any relationship :) As for yr query, Bintulu is a place where ppl live, grow up n earn a living. That is about it. FYI we went to the jetty, went off on the boat n just stopped at food court to eat on the way back. What does that tell you? :)

Janvier said...

History in class should have been taught this way!

Ban said...

I LOVE this retelling of the Ramayana story. Deliciously blasphemous!

Chris said...

Yeah, some of it quite funny as well.. kaka..

savante said...

And don't you love the music, ryan?

As an RPG? That would be pretty fun as well, bradley.

Thanks, paperdrawn boy!

Oh yeah, and she still got dumped, life!

So I'm obviously not headed to Bintulu, bengbeng.

Oh I wish. I doubt our teachers have such an irreverent sense of humour, janvier. :)

That's why the religious fundamentalists are up in arms, ban :)

Hilarious, right, chris~