Amrita Shergill is often referenced as India’s Frida Kahlo. Born just 7 years apart, they were both strong women at the forefront of progressive art, incorporating their Indian and Mexican influences into their paintings.
They left behind self-portraits exploring the different emotions of womanhood and pushed the limits of how women at the time were conditioned to behave. They were sisters separated by a few oceans.
One simmering afternoon of our sourcing trip to Kerala found us sheltering from the heat in Trivandrum, re-watching one of our favourite films of all times.
Sita Sings the Blues is written, animated, produced, edited, designed and pretty much everything else by the super talented Nina Paley. It’s a fun, modern take on the story of the Ramayana, narrated by shadow puppets piecing together the story for themselves and interspersed with musical numbers set to old jazz tunes of Anette Shaw.
And interlaced further among it all is the story of the filmmaker’s own troubles with the end of a long-distance marriage, almost paralleling that of Ram and Sita.
Most importantly, it looks at the story of the Ramayana from a woman’s perspective and straight up questions the ridiculousness and magnitude of injustices against Sita – a woman hopelessly devoted to a husband despite everything.
The animation, which ranges across many different styles, is stunning, the musical score amazing and the dialogue super hilarious and witty while making you pause and question traditional mythology.
And the best part- Nina Paley stood up to conventional distribution and licensing laws and insisted the movie be free for all to distribute, copy, share, archive, and show as they please. Respecting the integrity of shared culture and giving it back!
The entire movie can be seen HERE. If you haven’t so far, do it!
Dithi Chakrabortty grew up with an artistic family, dabbling in it a little herself but working as a nutritionist in Bombay for several years before her husband’s work took them to Geneva.
While there, she immersed herself into painting full-time, sharing her work through her blog, eventually selling prints and original canvases. Inspired by Indian folklore, mythology and traditions, her paintings and drawings are full of colour, traditional motifs and immense detail, favourite themes being traditional Indian women and depictions of gods and goddesses.
Dominated by it’s long stretch of coastline, Kerala is a state of sea, coconuts, jackfruits, palm trees, sun, bananas, rains and fish.
It has a rich and strong cultural and social heritage and has given birth to some of the country’s best painters, musicians, poets, writers and political activists. There is an immense love for food and drink and a mix of simplicity and vibrancy among the population.
We’ve been exploring the region- Kannur in the north and Trivandrum in the south, experiencing the culture and people, learning about the traditional wear and artforms and are excited to create from our adventures!