Born to act
Son of a staunch
Arya Samaji who was against acting, Balraj Sahni was an actor
with the talent for stealing the show and capturing the maximum
on May 1
Talented and versatile, Balraj Sahni gave a number of super hits and was the recipient of many prestigious awards
Balraj Sahni was a
highly talented, diligent, sincere and serious actor. He was an
actor with the talent for stealing the show and capturing the
maximum applause. He was born on May 1, 1913, in Rawalpindi,
Pakistan. His father, Harbans Lal Sahni, was a staunch Arya
Samaji with a strong dislike for acting and dancing.
His childhood name
was Yudhishtar,`A0which he later changed to Balraj,`A0and began
to be called Balraj Sahni. Since his early school days, he had a
taste for literature. He not only did MA in English literature
from Government College, Lahore, but also contributed
exhaustively to the college magazine, Raavi. Although his
father was against acting, he kept on acting in skits and
one-act plays during his college days.
completion of his studies, he became a cloth merchant, and lent
a helping hand to his father in extending his family business. A
few months later, he went to Shanti Niketan at Calcutta and
served there as a teacher for two years. Then he shifted to
Mahatma Gandhiís Sewa Gram Ashram, and after having a brief
stay there, he joined the BBC Londonís Hindi service.
He served the BBC
for four years as an announcer. Later he got associated with the
Indian Peopleís Theatre to exhibit his acting talent in
various stage plays.
The stage plays
served as a firm ground for his acting career. Then one day he
switched over to acting in films. His debut film was Justice,
whereas he gained recognition. In his second film, Dharti Ke
Lal, which was directed by KA Abbas, he played the role of a
young man who, in spite of all odds, stands boldly against
After Dharti Ke
Lal, Balraj gave a number of super hits to the film
industry. Being a versatile and talented actor, he delivered
several hits. Among his more than 100 blockbusters, the films
that are laudable and cannot be forgotten include Hum Log,
Footpath, Do Bigha Zameen, Aulaad, Jawab, Hira Moti, Garam Kot,
Kathputli, Pardesi, Seema, Raahi, Devar Bhabi, Anuradha,
Parineeta, Chhoti Behan, Anpadh, Kabuliwala, Haqiqat, Sangharsh,
Ek Phool Do Maali, Neel Kamal, Waqt, Do Raste, Hanste Zakham,
Duniya, Chhoti Bahu, Humraaz, Pavittar Paapi, Garam Hawa and
Apart from being a
great actor, he was a well-known author also. His most famous
writings are Mera Pakistani Safarnama, Mera Roosi Safarnama ,
Cinema and Stage, Purab ke Bhai, Meri Filmi Atamkatha
and Meri Gair-Jazbati Diary. He loved Punjabi, Punjabi
language and Punjabi food.
Sahni was the
recipient of many prestigious awards and honours. He was awarded
the Padmashri for his exemplary contribution to the development
of Indian cinema. He was a man with a great heart and was a
generous benefactor. He always preferred signing films with good
scripts and significant roles. Money was not his priority.
As far as his
family life was concerned, he married Dammo (Damyanti) in 1936,
but she passed away in 1948, after leaving him alone with a
heart full of sorrow.
Later on, he
married Santosh, and began to lead a happy life again. His son
Parikshit Sahni is also a noted actor. On April 13, 1973, he
suffered a heart attack and died.