Indian Cinema shall always remain indebted to Balraj Sahni, the brilliant actor who gave respectability to the otherwise looked down profession. A highly educated person with degree in both English Literature and Hindi, he was one of the most sensitive actors for whom evolving as a performer and human being was more important than harnessing the tag of superstar!!
Readers would be surprised to know that before becoming an actor he was a professor of English and Hindi at Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan. Here he had the privilege of interacting with the great Rabindranath Tagore and this inspired him to be part of freedom movement. Soon he came in contact with Father of Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, on whose guidance he went to England and joined the BBC-London's Hindi service as a radio announcer. Thus he is Indian Cinema’s First RJ. (Radio Jockey)
The reason behind joining BBC radio service was a part of freedom movement deal between Mahatma Gandhiji and Balraj Sahni. Bapu had instructed Balraj Sahni to use the platform constructively to spread the message of Indian freedom among the Indian based in European countries, which he did skillfully.
When Gandhiji launched the ‘Quit India Movement’ Balraj Sahni, left his lucrative BBC RJ job and returned to India. Back in India he joined IPTA (Indian People's Theatre Association) and through his patriotic plays helped India to win freedom.
After independence he joined cinema for his artistic satisfaction rather than money. That’s the reason he did some mind-blowing films that tackled social subjects like DHARTI KE LAL, DO BIGHA ZAMEEN, KABULIWALA, SEEMA, GARAM HAWA, WAQT, HAQEEQAT, etc.
The greatness of Balraj Sahni can be gauged from the fact that when Amitabh Bachchan expressed his desire to become an actor, his father Harivansh Rai Bachchan told him, “ Son, I will give you permission, on condition, if you can retain the spotless image of Balraj Sahani, that he maintained till his end, despite being a part of the murky film industry.”
Since then Amitabh Bachchan has idolized Balraj Sahni and brought pride and reverence to Indian cinema.