Balraj Sahni, also known as Yudhishthir Sahni was an Indian film and stage actor of his time. He was the brother of Bhisham Sahni, noted Hindi writer, playwright, and actor. He died on April 13, 1973, and today is the 50th anniversary of his passing.
He is best known for his work in films like Dharti Ke Lal (1946), Do Bigha Zameen (1953), Chhoti Bahen (1959), Kabuliwala (1961) and Garam Hawa (1973).
On his death anniversary, let us know more about the renowned actor.
Sahni was born on May 1, 1913, in Rawalpindi, Punjab, British India. Lahore University awarded him a master’s degree in English Literature. Following this, he travelled to Rawalpindi to manage his family’s business. He worked closely with Mahatma Gandhi in 1938. He then moved to England to work for BBC London Hindi.
Sahni's acting career began at the Indian People’s Theatre. In 1946, he made his Bollywood debut with 'Insaaf'. The following year, he appeared in films such as 'Dharti Ke Lal' and 'Door Chalen.' His 1953 film, 'Do Bigha Zameen,' garnered the Cannes Film Festival’s International Award. In 1961, he appeared in the film Kabuliwala, which left an indelible impression.
Love for writing
Balraj Sahni enjoyed composing as well. He wrote extensively in Hindi, English, and Punjabi. After visiting Pakistan in 1960, he also authored the book My Pakistani Journey. He visited numerous countries and also authored a book.
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 (1969). Balraj Sahni also wrote in Punjabi and contributed to the Punjabi magazine Preetlari.
He founded 'Punjabi Kala Kender' in 1973 at Bombay, which gives away the annual Balraj Sahni Award, also given by the 'All India Artists Association'.
He went to jail
Balraj Sahni was a supporter of Marxist ideology. In 1949, during the rehearsal of Balwant Gargi’s play 'Signalman,' he learned that a Communist Party procession was scheduled to begin in Parel, and he joined the procession with his wife. Meanwhile, violence broke out, and Sahni was detained alongside numerous others. He was incarcerated in Bareilly. Two months later, he was transferred to Arthur Road Jail. One day, the jailer summoned him and informed him that he had been spotted. At that moment, Asif was also seated there. On Asif’s request, the jailer granted him permission to fire while incarcerated. He would leave in the morning for hunting and return in the evening. After serving roughly three months in prison, he filmed the film Halchal.