Creative Interpretations of the Ramayana In Literature & Film


Goska, Danusha.  “The Ramayana . . . as if Sita Mattered.”  The Folklore Muse.  Ed. Frank de Caro.  UP CO, Urban Institute (2009).

Inventive play/puppet show set in 21st-century New York City, where Sita, the privileged daughter of a wealthy real estate magnate, discovers that her father, husband, and kidnapper doubt her worth, while her disguised mother alone loves the woman she can be.  Last line of the play:  “Sita: I don’t know. All I know is I can’t take the injustice in what I used to think was completely beautiful. I have to find the better way.”

A novel series based on Sita, in the works:,6202

A Musical:

Sita Ram, “a modern interpretation of the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana, fusing the past, present, and future in a fantastical world of song, dance, fashion, and design that leads its audience on a path of reflection and self-discovery.”

The Ramayana in Film:

Sita Sings the Blues

Directed by Nina Paley.  2008.


An animated version of the epic Indian tale of Ramayana set to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw.   Perhaps the richest source of a Sita-centered version of the Ramayana, Sita Sings the Blues was written by Nina Paley to help her understand and recover from her husband’s unexplained and surprise withdrawal from their marriage during a trip to India.  This film cuts between Paley’s own marital tale, three cut-out puppets discussing the details of the Ramayana, and the story of Rama and Sita, animated, to the jazz stylings of Annette Hanshaw.

If class time is limited, the puppet sections move the narrative along most effectively:

6:58-11:25—synopsis of the Ramayana as narrated by shadow puppets

15:00-19:15—Ravana kidnaps Sita

22:06-22:57—Sita’s journey in Ravana’s chariot

37:21-39:40—Rama rejects Sita

42:57-43:28—Rama takes Sita back

1:01:48—Rama banishes Sita again

1:12:00—Sita returns to her Mother


Ramayana the Epic. With subtitles in Sinhala

Video Link:

Beginning to 9:25—Overview of story—Rama wins Sita in contest

27:32-33:20—Kidnapping of Sita by Ravana

1:28:00-1:31:00—Rescue of Sita—Sita goes through the fire—return to Ayodha


Ramayana:  The Legend of Prince Rama (English version)

Video Link:

Beginning to 21:00—useful summary of origin story and Rama’s banishment

32:00-39:00—The kidnapping of Sita by Ravana