Balraj Sahni

Profession: Actor , Dialogue, Director, Screenplay, Story Writer, Supporting Actor
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Personal Details

  • Also Know as :- Balraj Sahni
  • Profession:- Actor , Dialogue, Director, Screenplay, Story Writer, Supporting Actor
  • Gender :- male
  • Birthdate:- 01 May 1913
  • Status:- Married
  • Debut Year:- 1946
  • Active Years:- 13 Apr 2003

Physique Details

Family Details

Balraj Sahni became immortal with Garam Hawa If Mother India made Nargis and Sholay made Amjad Khan immortal likewise the movie that made Balraj Sahni immortal is unarguably Garam Hawa (1973) directed by M. S. Sathyu. In this film Balraj Sahni played the role of Salim Mirza, a shoe businessman whose family like several other Muslim families is hit by partition of India. While most of the Muslims from his locality (Including his close family members) migrate to Pakistan Salim Mirza, being an Indian patriot, declines to run away to Pakistan. However the tribulations, the humiliations and the disgrace that he undergoes for his patriotism forms the crux of the film. The highlight of the film is indeed Balraj Sahni’s towering performance. He portrays the pathos and the traumas of the protagonist brilliantly through his facial expressions, which are neither exaggerated nor under played. They are just perfect! Interestingly the move was released in 1973 when two commercial movies viz Bobby and Zanjeer were running successfully amidst such atmosphere Garam Hawa was released which had no stars except Balraj Sahni, yet the movie was an instant box office bonanza!! The movie won many National and International awards including Filmfare awards. Incidentally this was the last film of Balraj Sahni. Death Balraj Sahni died 13th April, 1973 at the age of 59.

India’s most qualified actor Balraj Sahni was born in Rawalpindi (now Pakistan) in a wealthy Punjabi family. He was a brilliant student and an Arya Samaji by heart. He was India Cinema’s one of the most qualified actors. What is surprising is that he held both - a B.A. degree in Hindi and a M.A. degree in English. Interestingly his wife Dayamanti too held a degree in Hindi. Thus the two joined Rabindra Nath Tagore's Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan as English and Hindi teacher respectively. Meeting Mahatma Gandhi and working at BBC Radio Service While teaching at Shantiniketan Balraj Sahni came in contact with Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore and through him he had the opportunity to meet Mahatma Gandhi. After working with Gandhiji, Bapu realized Sahni’s brilliance and asked him to serve Indians by joining the BBC London Radio service as an announcer. On Gandhiji’s advice Balraj Sahni went to England in 1939. Back in India and participation in Freedom Movement In 1943 Sahni came back to India. Since his wife Damayanti had became a famous IPTA actress hence Sahni made a tryst with acting and joined IPTA. At IPTA Sahni came in contact with famous journalist cum filmmaker K.A. Abbas and other progressive group of creative people who were serving freedom movement by their art. Thus Sahni too joined the league of Kaifi Azmi, A.K Hangal, Sahir Ludhianvi, Ali Sardar Jaffri, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Rajendra Singh Bedi etc. With his mighty pen he began his revolutionary mission for which he even went to jail many times.

His relation with his son Since Sahni was attached to freedom movement and his wife had expired hence Sahni had to keep his young son Parikshit Sahni at boarding school. But he would always find time to meet him at the boarding school. Since he was an actor hence whenever he got time he would land at the school and despite the school working he would plead the principal and take his son out for some enjoyment hence he played the role of a doting father brilliantly as he played his roles in films.

His first tryst into films Though Balraj Sahni began his tryst in Indian Cinema with the Hindi film Insaaf (1946) but it was K.A. Abbas who gave him his major break that brought Sahni on the horizon of Indian Cinema. Impressed by Sahni’s performance in theatre, Abbas gave him a role in his home production Dharti Ke Lal (1946) that depicted the naked truth of the grave Bengal famine (1943) thus exposing the realities of world’s socio-economical condition post World War II. The movie was highly applauded for its realistic depiction worldwide. It also brought Balraj Sahni on horizon for his realistic performance. How Balraj Sahni reported to shooting from Jail On one hand Sahni was absorbed in Theater and Cinema on the other hands he was also serving freedom movement through his mighty ‘Pen’ and writing motivating articles to stir up Indians against the British Raj. It was for one such article he was put behind bar. But despite being in jail he took permission from jail authorities to shoot in films and was granted. Incidentally he played the role of a jailor in the film. Thus he would come to sets in the uniform of a convict and then change into the uniform of a Jailor and later after shooting he would wear his convict’s uniform and return to jail in police escort. The movie was Hulchul (1951). How he lived on streets to make his role in Do Bigha Zameen, look realistic When master craftsman Bimal Roy signed Balraj Sahni to play a poor farmer, who comes to Kolkata city and pulls a hand driven rickshaw many in the film fraternity mocked at him because Balraj Sahni was an educated English Professor and carried him in an affluent style wearing suit and tie. Hence many argued he was miscast. But salute to Sahni he stunned everybody by his mesmerizing performance in the film. Bimal Roy in an interview said, “To get acquaintance of the lifestyle of rickshaw drivers in Kolkata, Balraj Sahni before the shooting began had actually spent many days with the real rickshaw drivers. He wore like them, learned their conversation skill and to top it all he even pulled the rickshaw with real passengers, who were unaware that they are being pulled by not a genuine rickshaw driver but an actor!!! The movie was a runaway hit and made Balraj Sahni a star in Bollywood. Balraj Sahni proves his versatility in Kabuliwala After much accolades for his marvelous performance in Do Bigha Zameen, Bimal Roy repeated Sahni in his next home production Kabuliwala (1961) based on the all time classic novel by Rabindranath Tagore by the same name. In this film Sahni played the role of a golden hearted Afghani Pathan Abdur Rahamat Khan, who immigrates to Kolkata and sells dry fruit on streets. Here he falls in love with a tender age girl Mini in whom in visualizes his distant daughter Amina left behind in Kabul. The emotional bond between the Pathan and the girl was sensitively portrayed on screen hence despite no hero/ heroine or dance and action the movie was hit. Balraj Sahni exceptionally brought out the emotions of a father and how he laments on the departing of a girl when she is married off. The climax scene when the young Mini turns adult and is being married leaves even a stone hearted man to weep!! Balraj Sahni joins league of A-Grade Stars After the huge success of Kabuliwala, Balraj Sahni was flooded with offers. With movies like Seema (1955) and Sone Ki Chidiya (1958) opposite Nutan doing well at the box office Balraj Sahni joined the league of A-Grade Stars and top heroines of that era began acting opposite him Nargis (Lajwanti), Meena Kumari (Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan) and Vyjayanthimala (Kathputli). In fact he became a top celebrity so much so that when B.R.Chopra made his first multi starrer Waqt (Directed by Yash Chopra) Balraj Sahni was given a top ranking in the list of huge start cast that boosted Sunil Dutt, Raaj Kumar, Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Sadhana. Producers sold their films on the name of Balraj Sahni Thus even as a character actor Balraj Sahni was a star material and producers sold their films on his name. Movies like Bhabi (1957), Chhoti Bahen (1959), Anpadh (1962), Ek Phool Do Mali etc. are examples. In late 60’s Balraj Sahni was a bigger star than Rajesh Khanna In the late 60’s Balraj Sahni was a bigger star than Rajesh Khanna, who turned superstar overnight by the hit film Aradhana (1969). But few would know prior to the release of Aradhana when filmmaker Raj Khosla had signed Rajesh Khanna in Do Raste, he had sold the film to distributor in the name of Balraj Sahni and not Khanna because he was Mr. Nobody than.

# Released Date Type Credited As Movie
1 01 Jan 1977 Film Actor Amaanat
2 01 Jan 1973 Film Actor Chimni Ka Dhuan
3 01 Jan 1973 Film Supporting Actor Hanste Zakhm
4 01 Jan 1973 Film Supporting Actor Pyar Ka Rishta
5 01 Jan 1973 Film Supporting Actor Daaman Aur Aag
6 01 Jan 1973 Film Supporting Actor Hindustan Ki Kasam
7 01 Jan 1973 Film Actor Garam Hawa
8 14 Jul 1972 Film Actor Jawani Diwani
9 01 Jan 1972 Film Actor Shayar E Kashmir Mahjoor
10 01 Jan 1972 Film Actor Jangal Mein Mangal