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Life and times of Dara Singh

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 13:40

Gayatri Sankar

Invincible Dara Singh:

For those who belong to the 1990s era, he was the invincible Hanuman ji, who could bash up the rakshasha’s and help Lord Rama win Sita back from Ravana. And for many others, he was Rustam-e-Hind, the wrestling champion. He was indeed one legendary figure, who had lived a spotless life and was known for being extremely humane.

Born on 19 November 1928 as Dara Singh Randhawa in a village near Amritsar, Punjab, the wrestler-turned-actor entertained generation after generation - be it in the movies or in the wrestling ring. The quintessential Punjab da puttar patronized Indian styled wrestling and represented India in various wrestling championships and won accolades for the country. Dara Singh, as he is popularly known as, is believed to have had started the trend of taking off his shirt on screen among the heroes of his times. Here’s taking a look at his achievements and endeavours:

Wrestling:

Dara was encouraged into wrestling by his family because he had a robust physique. He pursued Pehlwani, the Indian form of body building and the akhara was almost like his abode, where he spent most of his time learning the art of wrestling.

Soon he became the favourite son of India in the field of wrestling and started taking part in tournaments and was even invited by princely states to grace exhibitions and fairs organized in their respective territories. He has to his credit the fame of defeating some of the biggest names in the history of wrestling across the world, including the United States.

Singh defeated Tarlok Singh in Kuala Lumpur and was crowned as the Champion of Malaysia in 1947. He travelled to all the Commonwealth countries and, till date, is hugely popular for defeating the then champion King Kong. H e became the Indian Champion in 1954.

The legendary personality retired from professional wrestling in 1983, undefeated and was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame in 1996.

Films:

Singh ventured into acting in 1962 and played a number of characters that epitomized strength and masculinity. Interestingly, superstar Mumtaz was the only actress, who agreed to work with him as his heroine and shared screen space with him as many as 16 times. Actresses of his times refused to work with him because of his huge physique.

‘Rustom-e-Baghdad’, ‘King Kong’, ‘Veer Bhimsen’, ‘Dara Singh: The Iron man’ are some of the notable films he did in the initial stage of his acting career. Dara’s last Hindi film was ‘Jab We Met’ starring Shahid Kapoor and Kareena Kapoor.

Ramayana:

The role of Hanuman played by Dara Singh in Ramanand Sagar’s TV series ‘Ramayana’ can never be forgotten. The veteran played the role of the monkey god with utmost conviction and the viewers following the show then, literally used to think him to be the real Hanuman. Singh’s performance as Hanuman looked so authentic that even till date people visualize him as the real face of the God.

Politics:

He was nominated member of Rajya Sabha by Bhartiya Janata Party during August 2003 – August 2009.

Follow @gayatrisankar

First Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012 - 13:40

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