Kashmir-based filmmaker Balbir Singh Sahani is highlighting Kashmiri culture and traditions from past two decades through his lens.
Hailing from Zazah-Bug village in central Kashmir Budgam’s district, Sahanicompleted his basic education from Budgam and then shifted to Amar Singh College in Srinagar for a Bachelor's degree.
He has been associated with film and television industry for the last 20 years. With almost no support from his family to pursue his dream, Sahani'sjourneyof becoming a filmmaker is full of ups and downs.
“From my childhood, I was inclined towards the film industry. I got the first opportunity as an actor after qualifying the audition for a television serial of 26 episodes where i showed my acting skills and got acquainted with many of the stalwarts of the field,” he said.
Sahani said in 2002, he played a role of a student in some episodes of ‘Kashmir Valley School’ for Doordarshan.He was optimistic to show this serial to his parents and receive support but unfortunately, the serial could not be released.
“It was the toughest stage of my life and then I shifted towards production for Doordarshan and started working on ‘Chaman Chaman Di Phool”. I have also prepared 25-30 songs from the Doordarshan’s Punjabi wing,” he said.
Sahani said after his mother passed away in 2008, he left writing midway and focused on the production part.He produced and directed many programs for Doordarshan. He is now working as a full-fledged writer, producer, and director.
"I have worked as an Assistant Director with the noted Director of Kashmir, Umar Imtiyaz on several projects. I assisted him in 55-60 episodes," he said.
Similarly, Sahani did a project at DD Urdu Mumbai and worked as the first Assistant Director for several projects.
He has also directed five episodes of the Doordarshan serial ‘Meharbaan Kaisay Kaisay’ and wrote short commercial films ‘Mohabatik Dushman’, Chand Chore etc.
Sahani wrote and directed Nakhh- The last shoulder which won an award at Jammu International Film Festival 2022 and was widely appreciated by the people.
For the upcoming, Srinagar film festival, Nakhh has been already selected, ‘ he said.
About the film, Sahani said it has gripping story of a grave digger who is by profession a shopkeeper but he digs graves out of human service and does not charge anything for his services.
“After that, I wrote a film ‘Uss Toofan Ke Baad in Urdu language.It is currently in the production stage and 60 percent of the project has been completed and the rest will be completed this winter,” he said.
Sahanisaid he wrote another 80 minutes film ‘Mitti Naseeb Di’ based on Kashmir. The title and registration for this project have been already completed and the shooting of this film will start by the end of this month.
“I have many projects in the pipeline but first ‘Mitti Naseeb Di’ will be completed,” he said, adding “Presently, we are conducting workshops to train our artists and soon shooting for the film will be started.”
Sahani said it is an untold story of culture, relations, brotherhood, uncertainty, vulnerability, dismay, and problems of every individual and every family of the Sikh community of Valley.
About filmmaking as a career, Sahani said, Every time you hear about a filmmaker achieving sudden success, it’s always the result of years of hard, unappreciated work.
"If you want to make a living as a filmmaker, you can choose one of three broad categories: the film industry, freelancing and client work, and truly independent film,” he said.
Sahani said there are multiple paths you can take within each of those categories, and you can even mix and match them to suit your needs. “The possibilities are endless,” he added.