"Take movies, music, poetry out of life & its gone!"

Balraj Sahni's remarkably inspiring speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1972! (Did You Know - 63)

08 Apr, 2014 | Articles on Cinema / Articles on Music, Poetry and Life / Did You Know!

Balraj-Sahni - Bobby Talks Cinema.com

Reading articles in film magazines penned by renowned artists themselves and listening to their personal interviews sharing a unique vision of life, indeed used to be an enriching experience, equivalent of going through some rich literature, back in time before the 80s. The views expressed in those articles/interviews had many great insights to share which could also enlighten the reader about many relevant unknown truths of life not exactly related to cinema.
Admittedly I realized this fact while going through many old journals and other valuable stuff of that golden era for a personal assignments and was literally taken back seeing the amazing quality of thoughts shared by many industry veterans like some revolutionary thinkers caring about their society around. One of those most important and must read documents happens to be the convocation speech by writer-thinker-social activist Balraj Sahni, the most natural actor of Hindi Cinema, speaking on his visit to Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi in the year 1972. And I am sure many of the friends reading it, would feel pleasantly shocked knowing the vision of this immensely talented artist, who liked to say the truth as it is without any hidden fear and therefore is considered as one of most respected names of our Hindi Film Industry unanimously.
Now looking at the 11 page long document, many might try to avoid it taking it as irrelevant or talking about something which might not be interesting enough. But for those friends, I would simply like to add that the long speech is unarguably going to change your whole outlook towards the actors of that Golden Era and perhaps your whole perception about ART, CINEMA and SOCIETY too in all possibilities. So to miss this, would be a major sin if I may call it in my humble opinion and if you still don’t feel like convinced then do read this small paragraph taken from the long text and then decide on your own.

Our little film world either offers the actor too little work, forcing him to eat his heart out in idleness; or gives him too much --so much that he gets cut off from all other currents of life. Not only does he sacrifice the pleasures of normal family life, but he also has to ignore his intellectual and spiritual needs. In the last twenty-five years I have worked in more than one hundred and twenty five films. In the same period a contemporary European or American actor would have done thirty or thirty-five. From this you can imagine what a large part of my life lies buried in strips of celluloid. A vast number of books which I should have read I have not been able to read. So many events I should have taken part in have passed me by. Sometimes I feel terribly left behind. And the frustration increases when I ask myself how many of these one hundred and twenty-five films had anything significant in them? How many have any claim to be remembered? Perhaps a few. They could be counted on the fingers of one hand. And even they have either been forgotten already or will be, quite soon.”
For online reading, the speech is available at the following official link of JNU website.
And For friends who wish to have it as a PDF format, then the same can be downloaded to read at your own convenience from the following link.
Have a good time reading & contemplating!

Tags : Balraj Sahni's remarkably inspiring speech at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1972!, Did You Know Know Facts about Hindi Cinema at bobbytalkscinema.com, Articles on Cinema by Bobby Sing, Unknown Bollywood Trivia by Bobby Sing, Balraj Sahni at JNU in 1972
08 Apr 2014 / Comments ( 9 )

"But, to be frank, such occasions have been too few. More often, than not I had lost courage at the crucial moment, and taken shelter under the wisdom of other people. I had taken the safer path. I made decisions which were expected of me by my family, by the bourgeois class to which I belonged, and the set of values upheld by them. I thought one way but acted in another. For this reason, afterwards I have felt rotten. Some decisions have proved ruinous in terms of human happiness. Whenever I lost courage, my life became a meaningless burden."

I, so badly, want to change this part of my life. But......

Bobby Sing

 We all have that feeling too Avik.............and probably the chance to rectify it will be there soon.


speechless to comment on this.. kudos to you for sharing and for JNU toooo for preserving.

Bobby Sing

Thanks for giving it your precious time and commenting Pradeep.
Keep visiting and writing in,

kulvinder s
grt info..
Bobby Sing

Thanks for visiting and writing in Kulvinder S.


I must say that I differ on many views of Balraj Sahni. Just a small incidence where he narrated journey from Rawalpindi to Kashmir & road blockage. His view that simply because Englishman was free man could have confidence or conviction is not true, Whites/Europeans are like that for many centuries. And we Indians are like this for many, many centuries no matter whether we were ruled by British or Moghals.
Balraj must have forgotten that Indians would behave in exactly same manner in 1972 even after 25 years of Independence. And he is no more to see that we still behave in same manner in 2014.
1 more thing is comparison of Hollywood & Bollywood. Most of the Artistes in Bollywood for many,many years were refugees/migrants from earstwhile Pak/Punjab. So due to economic conditions (or some people call it as plain greed) they would sign so many movies. The situation has changed during last few years.

Bobby Sing

Hi Parag,
Thanks for writing in but reading your comment I didnt feel like your are saying any other thing different to the one presented by Balraj Sahni in his speech about the scary mindset of Indians. In fact you are agreeing to his view only but only with a different reason.

Secondly regarding Hindi films he is giving arguments in 1972 looking at the film made till date and yes there were mostly refugees/migrants from other places coming into the film-world with a lot of insecurity in mind.
And if you can read the autobiography of Balraj Sahni, link of which is also shared in another article at the site then you wll get facts about the same mentioned in that too.

Keep Visiting and Writing in,


Thanks for the PDF file link.

Bobby Sing

The pleasure is all mine Anjali.
Keep Visiting and Writing in,

Leave A Comment
E-mail (will not be published)
Website (Optional)
Enter shown code