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The Return of the Epic Film$
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Andrew Elliott

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748684021

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748684021.001.0001

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The Ramayana and Sita in Films and Popular Media

The Ramayana and Sita in Films and Popular Media

The Repositioning of a Globalised Version

(p.201) Chapter 12 The Ramayana and Sita in Films and Popular Media
The Return of the Epic Film

Aarttee Kaul Dhar

Edinburgh University Press

Sita is a leading female icon of India, and Ramayana forms a key part of India’s epic heritage, yet her character remains largely unknown in popular films outside India. With three hundred variations of it, it can now be called a global text as the Ramayana transcends geographic boundaries. Year after year there are films made, inspired by or based on Ramayana, awaited and seen with a lot of interest and critiqued with equal gusto. With the Ramayana the issue is never what is shown, but always how each film in this way becomes an epic film, as Ramayana is a national tale with epic implications both in India and abroad. This chapter examines two adaptations of Sita in modern popular forms, Anand’s Laying Janaki to Rest and Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues, to challenge Westernised definitions of what it means to be epic, and to argue that the ancient mythical prototype lives and breathes even 3,000 years later and can inform modern epics.

Keywords:   Ramayana, epic films, India, Sita Sings the Blues (film), Laying Janaki to Rest (documentary), Hollywood

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