3rd i Co-presents at the Asian Art Museum
The Golden Sita / Kanchana Sita
(G. Aravindan, India, 1977, 90mins, In Malayalam with English subtitles)
When: Oct 22, 2-4pm
Where: Asian Art Museum, Samsung Hall
Cost: Free with Museum Admission
G. Aravindan’s adaptation of the Ramayana begins where the tale approaches its end: in the Uttara Kandam or The Northern Tales. When Rama decides to do a Ashvamedayagna, a ritual to invoke the gods in aid of his imperialist intentions, his abandoned wife is cast as a statue that sits beside him. This is the Golden Sita (or Kanchana Sita) from which the film takes its title.
While the plot might be familiar to connoisseurs of the tale, Aravindan’s treatment is far from traditional. Following the contours of C. N. Sreekantan Nair’s feminist play, Aravindan makes Sita the protagonist of this retelling, and in a stroke of genius, casts her as Nature itself. As Rama meanders through the forest, leading up to the eventual showdown with his own two sons, Sita is always present – as the earth beneath his feet, as the sun shining down on him, as the wind in the trees. Against this sensual backdrop, Rama’s journey is presented as that of a man at the end of his life, taking stock of his legacy. Confronted by Sita’s absence, and presence, in his every step, Rama’s grief is inconsolable, leading to a striking conclusion.
With a cast of non-professional actors, drawn largely from the Rama Chenchu tribe (who claim to be direct descendants of Rama himself), and lensing by the acclaimed Malayalam filmmaker Shaji N. Karun, Aravindan’s adaptation is poetry itself, uncompromising in its cinematic vision and unflinching in its indictment of patriarchy, caste, and superstition. The film won two national awards in 1977, for Best Direction and Best Cinematography, cementing G. Aravindan’s place as a master of Indian cinema.
We present this little-seen gem in its recently digitally restored glory, thanks to the National Film Archive of India.
More information on the program is available at: http://www.asianart.org/events/993?starttime=1474009200