#EpicFail: On our failure to understand Sita

Me. Ramayan. Huge fan. And you know it.

So I have been on a journey of discovery of the epics, especially the Ramayan. I have been trying to connect it to our modern lives and trust me, it is not much different. All this started with Doordarshan’s relaunch of the Ramayan. And then it opened a can of memories with me revisiting the 2008 version of Ramayan (Gurmeet Chaudhary version). Then I saw the Ramayan from Sita’s point of view, Siya Ke Ram. I will elaborate on that later. And then, I came across this tiny gem in the form of a short film called #EpicFail on Hotstar (also available on YouTube)

*SPOILER ALERT*

The story is of a young aspiring writer, Siya, who works for a magazine. During a presentation once (mentioned in the film), she had spoken strongly against considering Sita as a role model. She thinks that Sita is a meek woman who did not live life on her terms, and always did what others told her to do. Impressed by this, her boss asks her to write a well-researched article, hinting that this could be her key to promotion. However, the more she researches Ramayan, the more she finds herself confused – and tensed because she is fast approaching a deadline and has not written a single word.

Desperately, she calls out to her namesake, Siya – the original Sita (presented in a modern outlook – jaisa des waisa bhes) and very harshly rebukes her for not having an opinion of her own. But Sita calmly asks her to revisit the various versions of Ramayan and read through them carefully.

Nobody asked her to follow Ram to the forest. It was HER choice.

In fact, everybody stopped her from doing so. King Dashrath pled with her to not go, but she chose to follow him.

Nobody asked her to enter the fire to prove her chastity. It was HER choice.

Her presence, which was instrumental in starting the Ram-Ravan battle, was a mere illusion of Sita. The real Sita was safe with the God of Fire as she was too strong for Ravan to handle.

The film ends with an interesting note which makes you revisit the epics and check your facts.

HINT: Read this from Valmiki Ramayan:

तया परूषमुक्तस्तु कुपितो राघवानुजः।

स विकाङ्क्षन्भृशं रामं प्रतस्थे नचिरादिव।।3.46.1।।

And this from Tulsidas Ramayan:

मरम बचन जब सीता बोला। हरि प्रेरित लछिमन मन डोला।।

बन दिसि देव सौंपि सब काहू। चले जहाँ रावन ससि राहू।।

Coming back to the short film, #EpicFail is a Pocket Films production which has a vast range of short films covering a range of interesting subjects in various languages. I must commend the way the protagonist Siya (Nivedita Pohankar) expresses her confusion either through harsh words or through silence. This 24-minute long film covers the discussion between Siya and her divine alter ego interestingly through different human emotions – frustration, anger, exasperation, resignation, confusion, and finally understanding.

Siya’s calm face at the end of the film shows clearly that she has calmly resolved her issues about Sita. The actress playing Sita, Nishi Doshi, portrays the confidence with which Sita led her life with her choices. Her beauty lies in her confidence which says, “think what you like, I don’t care, because I am not subject to your judgment. I never was, neither will I ever be.

This film provides a point of view towards an eternal question, Is Sita a good role model? But it doesn’t force its view on us, the conclusion is for us to make. It is a personal journey that everyone must make to discover Sita. Not judge, discover.

2 thoughts on “#EpicFail: On our failure to understand Sita

Add yours

  1. What a great post! A must read for all those people who dismiss without taking the time to explore!

    Do include translationa for the doha and shook.: )

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