Jagmohan Singh Barhok
Balraj Sahni ,one of the finest components of acting a thespian in a sense, was gifted with an exotically dashing personality. He belonged to Rawalpindi & married to Damyanti in 1930s, the couple spent some time teaching at Shantiniketan where they worked as teachers. They were blessed with a son -actor Prikshit Sahni and later a daughter. The couple moved to London where Sahni joined BBC Hindi service. Sahni eventually returned to India in 1943.His maiden film was “Dharti Ke Lal” directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas based on the Bengal famine in 1943 killing thousands of people. Zohra Sehgal made her screen debut with this film.It was also the first & last film produced by IPTA . The film was critically well received all over.
The film that created history was Bimal Roy’s “Do Bigha Zameen”, story of a poor farmer who goes to Calcutta to earn a small amount to get his mortgaged land back. The film is rated as a classic like “Devdas”,”Pyaasa” & “Mother India”.Initially,the director was hesitant to cast a suited booted English looking gentleman in the film. He took some risk but the actor did wonders as a rickshaw puller.It was an awe inspringly & unbelievably conceived role which Sahni played with aplomb. Amiya Chakravarty’s “Seema” starring Balraj Sahni and Nutan was another classic with ” Tu Pyaar Ka Sagar Hai” & ” Baat Baat Mein Rutho Na” two hit numbers. Nutan held the key as a performer & won the Filmfare Award For Best Actress while Amiya Chakrabarty received Best Story Award.The director repeated the actor in ” Kath Putli” ( 1957) opposite Vyjayanthimala.”Manzil Wohi Hai Pyar Ki” rendered by Subir Sen was pick of the lot under the baton Shankar Jaikishan. Prasad’s ” Chhoti Behan” featuring Nanda & Rehman boasts of some lovely songs like “Jaoon Kahan Bata Ae Dil”, ” Main Rangeela Pyar Ka Rahi”, “Kali Anar Ki ” & ” Bagon Mein Baharon Mein” to mention some. Bimal Roy’s ” Kabuliwala”( 1961) was another masterpiece & continues to be a choicest movie.”Anpadh” ( 1962), ” Haqeeqat” ( 1964 ),”Waqt” ( 1965- “Aye Meri Zohra Jabeen” fame) ” Hamraaz” (1967 ), ” Sangharsh” ( 1968) “Ek Phool Do Mali” & “Do Raaste” ( 1969)were other successful movies of the actor. Sahni also worked in National Award Winning Punjabi film ” Satluj De Kande” ( 1964 ) & “Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar” ( 1970).
The story of his last hit & acclaimed film M.S. Sathu’s “Garam Hawa” more or less resembled her daughter’s life whose marriage was not successful & she came to live with him.She died a year later in 1972. A heart-broken Balraj Sahni ,as father, held himself responsible, as he did feel in film ” Pavitra Papi”, for her daughter Shabnam’s death in the prime of her life. She was 27 .He died a year later before the dubbing of his film “Garam Hawa” this day in 1973.