Gulabo Sitabo Puppets – From Real Life To Amitabh Bachchan Movie Facts

Hanima Anand |Jun 13, 2020

When the Gulabo Sitabo movie of Amitabh Bachchan is released, people come back to search for the old-aged folk art of Gulabo Sitabo puppets who are falling into oblivion in India.

Yesterday, Gulabo Sitabo movie was released online, reinvigorating public interest on the traditional art of India – the glove puppetry. There was a time when Gulabo Sitabo puppets ruled theatres across the country, but the more modern Indian society is, the less people come to see puppetry.

Today, let take you back to ancient India when Gulabo Sitabo puppets were in prime time, read their real-life stories, their links to Bachchan family, and how they are depicted in the recent movie by Shoojit Sircar.

Gulabo Sitabo puppets – The nomadic folk art from Uttar Pradesh

Tracing back to 1950s, a few years after India gained its independence, people started thinking of entertainment forms for the days of fresh freedom. Everyone was eager about novel entertaining concepts but an Uttar Pradesh family was among the most successful ones.

Gulabo Sitabo Puppets 1
One of a few glove puppeteers in India performing Gulabo Sitabo puppets.

This Pratapgarh-based family thought of glove puppetry as this was portable and didn’t require much investment. They did it.

Ram Niranjan Lal Srivastava, the family breadwinner, created two female puppets and named them Gulabo and Sitabo. Sitabo was an overworked modest wife of a man while Gulabo was his clever mistress. Like many other sisters-in-law relationships, Gulabo and Sitabo got involved in endless fighting over domestic problems.

What made these Gulabo Sitabo puppets a household name at that time was the message they conveyed to the audience. The puppet shows didn’t bring humour and entertainment only; they also promoted education and women empowerment.

Gaining wide recognition from the audience, Ram’s family took Gulabo Sitabo puppets to many other Indian states, increasing the coverage of puppetry in national theatres.

Ran then joined social education programs by Literacy House set up in 1956. He used his puppet shows to spread knowledge and deliver meaningful messages to Indian people.

Gulabo Sitabo Puppets 2
With the Gulabo Sitabo movie, people hope for a revival of Indian glove puppetry.

From the two dead dolls, with his voice and mind, he brought the light to many lives in darkness. He and his family who are still managing to keep puppetry alive now have inspired and changed generations with their entertaining tasks.

However, similar to many other traditional art forms, puppetry couldn’t maintain its spotlight when the society became more developed. Just over 30 years after its introduction, puppetry experienced a sharp decrease in its popularity. Modern Indians don’t show much interest in this folk art but turn to other sophisticated entertainment forms such as Bollywood movies.

Though puppetry hasn’t been announced dead in India yet, Ram’s family are struggling to get audience for their Gulabo Sitabo puppets shows. His nearest successors, Narain and Narayan, are already 80 and 56 years old. They are both Ram’s nephews.

Though Narayan’s children are still helping with puppet making, they don’t show passion for puppetry like their ancestors any more. Narayan feared that one day there would be no puppeteer left in this country.

Then the movie Gulabo Sitabo with Amitabh Bachchan came to life, giving his hope.

Gulabo Sitabo Puppets 3
The glove puppetry in India is falling into oblivion, please save it!

Gulabo Sitabo puppets and movie – what is the connection?

If you have watched Gulabo Sitabo movie of Shoojit Sircar, you can immediately notice similarities between the movie plot and Gulabo Sitabo puppets stories.

The movie revolves around the relationship between a tenant and his landlord. Though the two could never live in harmony with each other, they couldn’t stand one day without the other either. This is exactly the situation of Gulabo and Sitabo sister-in-law puppets.

But a more difficult question to ponder is why Amitabh Bachchan is so attached to this Gulabo Sitabo movie? Is it just a random casting or an intentional arrangement?

Back to the real-life Gulabo Sitabo puppets history, when Ram’s family created the puppetry, there was a famous poet in the same district of Pratapgarh named Harivansh Rai Bachchan. The puppet family showed an absolute admiration for the Bachchan family, often calling them ‘hamare hi Pratapgarh ke.’

And our respectful Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan is the son of famous poet Harivansh.

When hearing about a movie named Gulabo Sitabo, Ram’s family were surprised, but they were even more in shock when knowing Amitabh Bachchan would play the lead role in this movie.

The two legends of the little Pratapgarh finally met in Shoojit Sircar’s project.

Above are interesting facts about the ancient Gulabo Sitabo puppets as well as their relation to Bachchan’s family and newly released Gulabo Sitabo movie. will update more posts on this film, check our Bollywood news section daily for more!

>>> Related post: Gulabo Sitabo | Everything You Need To Know About Big-B & Ayushmann's First Collaboration


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