Lucknow:''Gulabo-Sitabo, the famous puppets who had drifted into oblivion with the advent of computer games, are now back in the reckoning.
Actor Amitabh Bachchan''s latest film called "Gulabo-Sitabo" has put the puppet duo back into spotlight.
The puppets were created by a Kayastha family in Pratapgarh -- ironically, a district to which Amitabh Bachchan''s ancestors belong. Ram Niranjan Lal Srivastava belonged to Narharpur village in Pratapgarh and he was working in the Agricultural Institute in Prayagraj, then known as Allahabad, when he learnt the art of puppetry.
In the sixties, Srivastava created the Gulabo-Sitabo puppets and presented them at shows as warring sisters-in-law. He also wrote short poems focusing on social evils that were a part of Gulabo-Sitabo shows. After Srivastava, his nephew Alakh Narain Srivastava carried forward the tradition. He also trained other people in the art and Gulabo-Sitabo went on to become an integral part of folklore.
"With the advent of TV and computer games, Gulabo-Sitabo slowly drifted into oblivion. I have tried to keep the art alive but I hope that the film will revive the characters," said Alakh Narain Srivastava, who worked to spread the popularity of the puppets through television and other cultural events.
Every year on Dussehra, Srivastava returns to his native village in Pratapgarh and uses the Ram Lila stage for his puppet shows.
Srivastava said that Gulabo-Sitabo, without sounding like preachers, told people how to resolve family disputes and the importance of education and cleanliness.
"There is a need for the government to give protection to such art forms and encourage people to learn it," he said.
Srivastava is not sure whether the film "Gulabo Sitabo" has any connection with his puppet characters but added that "the mere title has evoked so much interest in the puppets and we can hope for a massive revival of the art." The film, according to sources, revolves around the love-hate relationship between a house owner, played by Bachchan, and his tenant, played by Ayushman Khurana. Shades of Gulabo-Sitabo definitely.