In this video, Bhisham Sahni himself is introducing Govind Nihalani’s film Tamas(1988).

Padma Bhushan awardee Bhisham Sahni became famous for Tamas, his fictionalized account of communal politics based on true events he witnessed in 1947. The book won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1975. it continues to hold meaning for Indian society until today.

Tamas (1974) is a novel based on the riots of 1947 Partition of India which he witnessed at Rawalpindi. Tamas portrays the horrors of senseless communal politics of violence and hatred; and the tragic aftermath – death, destruction, forced migration and the partition of a country.

Balraj Sahni And His Thoughts On The Indian Progressive Cultural Movement

It has been translated into English, French, German, Japanese and many Indian languages including Tamil, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kashmiri, and Manipuri. Tamas won the 1975 Sahitya Akademi Award for literature and was later made into a television film in 1987 by Govind Nihalani. Two of his masterpiece stories, ‘Pali’ and ‘Amritsar Aa Gaya Hai’, are also based on the Partition.

Sahni’s prolific career as a writer also included six other Hindi novels: Jharokhe (1967), Kadian (1971), Basanti (1979), Mayyadas Ki Madi (1987), Kunto (1993) and Neeloo, Nilima, Nilofar (2000)., over hundred short stories spread over ten collections of short stories, (including Bhagya Rekha (1953), Pahla patha (1956),Bhatakti Raakh (1966), Patrian (1973), Wang Chu (1978), Shobha Yatra (1981), Nishachar (1983), Pali(1989), and Daayan (1996) ; five plays including ‘Hanush’, ‘Kabira Khada Bajar main’, Madhavi’, ‘Muavze’, ‘Alamgeer’, a collection of children’s short stories Gulal ka keel’.But his novel named ‘Mayyadas Ki Mari’ (Mayyadas’s Castle) was one of his finest literary creation, The backdrop of this narrative is historical and depicts the age when the Khalsa Raj was vanquished in Punjab and the British were taking over. This novel is a saga of changing social order and a decadent set of values. He wrote the screenplay for Kumar Shahani’s film, Kasba (1991), which is based on Anton Chekhov’s story, “In the Gully”.

Bhisham Sahni wrote his autobiography Aaj ke Ateet (Today’s Pasts, Penguin 2016) and the biography of his brother Balraj Sahni, Balraj My Brother (English)


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