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About Balraj Sahni

Male actor Balraj Sahni from India, famous due to bollywood

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Balraj Sahni Actor Pictures Interview Biography

Balraj Sahni (May 1, 1913ľApril 13, 1973) was a famous Hindi film actor. His real name was Yudhishthir Sahni. He belonged to a Punjabi Khokhran family from Bhera now in Pakistan Punjab .

Early life

Sahni went from his native Rawalpindi to study in the University of Harvard. He completed his Masters degree in English Literature from Lahore and then went back to Rawalpindi and joined his family business. He also held a Bachelor's degree in Hindi, followed by a Masters in English from Punjab University. Soon after, he married Damayanti Sahni.

In the late 1930s, Sahni and his wife left Rawalpindi to join Tagore's Shantiniketan in Bengal as an English and Hindi teacher. He also went to work with Mahatma Gandhi for a year in 1938. The next year, Sahni, with Gandhi's blessings, went to England to join the BBC-London's Hindi service as a radio announcer. He returned to India in 1943.

Balraj Sahni with his wife Damayanti, 1936.


Sahni was always interested in acting, and started his acting career with the plays of plays of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) [1]. He started his film career in Mumbai with the film Insaaf (1946), followed by Dharti Ke Lal directed by KA Abbas in 1946, Door Chaleinin 1946, and other films. But it was in 1953, with Bimal Roy's classic Do Bigha Zameen, that his true forte as an actor was first recognised. The film won the international prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

He followed it up with an encore in the 1911 classic Kabuliwala penned by Tagore.

Sahni's wife Damayanti passed away at a young age in 1947, who was the heroine of his film, Gudiya (1947) and two years later he married his first cousin, Santosh Chandhok, later known as an author and television writer.

Sahni's acting was very well liked and appreciated in all his films. He acted opposite top heroines like Nutan, Meena Kumari, Vyjayantimala, and Nargis in films like Seema (1955), Sone Ki Chidiya (1958), Satta Bazaar (1959), Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan (1961), Kathputli (1957), Lajwanti (1958) & Ghar Sansaar (1958). However, he is perhaps best remembered by the current generation for the picturization of the legendary song Ae Meri Zohra Jabeen from the movie Waqt (1965) on him. Sahni appeared opposite Achala Sachdev in the number.

He also starred in the classic Punjabi film Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar (1970).

Later life

Sahni was a gifted writer, his early writings were in English, though later in life he switched to Punjabi, and became a writer of repute in Punjabi literature. In 1960, after a visit to Pakistan, he wrote Mera Pakistani Safar. His book Mera Rusi Safarnama, which he had written after a tour of the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1969, earned him the 'Soviet Land Nehru Award'. He contributed many poems and short stories in magazines and also penned his autobiography, Meri Filmi Aatmakatha. Sahni was an extremely well read and politically conscious person. He was one of the founding fathers of the IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association) movement and known for his leftist leanings. Sahni also dabbled in screenwriting; he wrote the 1951 movie Baazi which starred Dev Anand and was directed by Guru Dutt. He was also a recipient of the Padma Shri Award. Balraj Sahni also wrote in Punjabi and contributed to the Punjabi magzine Preetlari .

Sahni was undoubtedly one of the greatest actors ever to come on the Indian screen: a highly natural actor who reminded the audience of the actors like Motilal because of his simple persona and a sophisticated style of acting. He was looked up to as a role model as he was never involved in any scandal. His acting in Do Bigha Zameen and Garam Hawa were the highlights of his career. He believed in what is known as 'Neo-Realistic' cinema.

Balraj's brother Bhisham Sahni was a well-known writer who wrote the book Tamas. His son Parikshat Sahni is also an actor.

Balraj Sahni died on April 13, 1973, of a massive cardiac arrest at the age of 59. He had been depressed for some time by the untimely death of his young daughter, Shabnam.

'Punjabi Kala Kender', founded in 1973 at Bombay by Balraj Sahni, gives away the annual Balraj Sahni Award, and also the 'All India Artists' Association.


Year Film Role
1946 Door Chalen
Dharti Ke Lal
1947 Gudia
1951 Maldar
Humlog Raj
Hulchul The jailer
1952 Badnam
1953 Rahi Doctor
Do Bigha Zamin Shambu Maheto
1954 Naukari
1955 Tangewali
Seema Ashok 'Babuji'
Garam Coat Giridhari
Taksaal Jatin Mukherjee
1957 Pardesi (1957 film)
Mai Baap
Lal Batti
Kath Putli Loknath
Bhabhi Ratan
1958 Sone Ki Chidiya Shrikant
Lajwanti Mr. Nirmal
Khazanchi Radhe Mohan
Ghar Sansar Kailash
Ghar Grihasti
1959 Satta Bazaar Ramesh
Heera Moti
Chhoti Bahen Rajendra
Black Cat Agent Rajan
1960 Dil Bhi Tera Hum Bhi Tere Panchu Dada
Bindya Devraj
Anuradha Dr. Nirmal Chaudhary
1961 Suhag Sindoor Ramu
Sapne Suhane
Bhabhi Ki Chudiyan Shyam
Kabuliwala Abdul Rehman Khan
1962 Shaadi Ratau
Anpadh Choudhary Shambhunath
1964 Punar Milan Dr. Mohan/Ram
Haqeeqat Major Ranjit Singh
1965 Waqt Lala Kedarnath
Faraar Detective Officer
1966 Pinjre Ke Panchhi Yaseen Khan
Neend Hamari Khwab Tumhare Khan Bahadur
Aasra Surendra Nath Kumar
Aaye Din Bahar Ke Shukla
1967 Naunihaal
Ghar Ka Chirag
Aman Gautamdas' dad
Hamraaz Police Inspector Ashok
1968 Sunghursh Ganeshi Prasad
Neel Kamal Mr. Raichand
Duniya Public Prosecutor Ramnath Sharma
1969 Talash Ranjit Rai
Nanha Farishta Dr. Ramnath
Ek Phool Do Mali Kailash Nath Kaushal
Do Raaste Navendru Gupta
1970 Pehchan Ex-Firefighter
Pavitra Paapi Pannalal
Naya Raasta Bansi
Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar
Mere Humsafar Ashok
Holi Ayee Re
Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani
Dharti Bharat's dad
1971 Paraya Dhan Govindram
Jawan Mohabbat Dr. Sarin
1972 Shayar-e-Kashmir Mahjoor Ghulam Ahmed Mahjoor
Jawani Diwani Ravi Anand
Jangal Mein Mangal Thomas
1973 Pyaar Ka Rishta
Hindustan Ki Kasam
Hanste Zakhm SP Dinanath Mahendru
Garam Hawa Salim Mirza
1977 Jallian Wala Bagh Udham Singh
Amaanat Suresh


Balraj Sahni: An Autobiography, by Balraj Sahni. Published by Hind Pocket Books, 1979.

Further reading

Balraj Sahni: An Intimate Portrait, by Puran Chandra Joshi. Published by Vikas Pub. House, 1974.
Balraj, my brother (National biography series), by Bhishma Sahni. National Book Trust, India, 1981.

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