Sunday, July 12, 2020


Lucknow misses theatrical release of 'Gulabo Sitabo'

IANS | June 09, 2020 02:09 PM

LUCKNOW:The release of superstar Amitabh Bachchan's much-awaited film "Gulabo Sitabo" is barely three days away, but there is a sense of despondency is the air.
The reason for this is that the film is releasing on the digital platform on June 12 and is not likely to have a theatrical release.

Bachchan fans are naturally disappointed -- more so because "Gulabo Sitabo" has been shot extensively in Lucknow.

"This is probably the first film that Amitabh Bachchan has shot in Lucknow and we were waiting eagerly to see it on the big screen. Watching a film -- that too, a Bachchan film -- on the OTT platform is just not acceptable, " said Raju Sharma, a software engineer and a hardcore Bachchan fan.

He said that Lucknowites had been waiting for "Gulabo Sitabo" for almost a year now. The film was shot in Lucknow in June last year.

"We were ready to wait for another two months for cinema halls to open to see the film, but we will certainly not see the megastar on a tiny screen, " he said.

A number of local artists who were a part of the film when it was shot in Lucknow, are equally disappointed.

One of the actors, who did not wish to be named, said, "I had saved up so that I could book one full show for my family and friends. I wanted them to see me share screen space with Mr Bachchan but the digital release has dashed my hopes. We cannot question it because it is the film maker's decision. If other films can wait for theatres to reopen, surely 'Gulabo Sitabo' could have waited too."

Theatre owners are also disappointed with the digital release of "Gulabo Sitabo".

"This was one of the films that we knew would bring back the audience to the theatres. Mr Bachchan in a film shot in Lucknow was the perfect recipe to drive away lockdown blues. We are not sure whether the film will get a theatrical release or not, " said a manager of a local multiplex.

"Gulabo Sitabo" is special for Uttar Pradesh since it is named after a popular puppet duo that had slipped into oblivion.

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 the 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 the folklore.

With the advent of TV and computer games, Gulabo-Sitabo slowly drifted into oblivion.

Members of the Srivastava family are 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 and the banter between a house owner, played by Bachchan, and his tenant, played by Ayushman Khurana -- Shades of "Gulabo-Sitabo" definitely.

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