Wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, who wowed audiences with his brawn and on screen histrionics for over five decades, passed away at the age of 84 on Thursday following brief illness.
Dara Singh was hospitalised at the Kokilaben Hospital on July 7 following a cardiac problem. Thereafter, his health only deteriorated further.
Apart from making a name for himself in professional wrestling, Singh also acted in a number of Punjabi and Hindi films.
The film, sports and political fraternity came together to mourn his death, hailing him as the original \\\’Indian Super Hero\\\’, a symbol of strength and a legend in his life time.
He has left behind his wife, six children – three sons and three daughters.
A wrestling hero
Born in a Jat Sikh family to Balwant Kaur and Surat Singh Randhawa in November 1928 in the village Dharmuchak of Amritsar district in Punjab, Singh was trained in an Indian style of wrestling, Pehlwani.
Apart from wrestling in tournaments, he wrestled on invitation of kings of Indian princely states in fairs and carnivals.
In the world of wrestling, he competed against some of the greatest names like King Kong (Australia), George Gordienko (Canada), John Desilva (New Zealand) and others.
Singh won the title of Rustam-e-Punjab and Rustam-e-Hind for his wrestling prowess. Also, he became the Commonwealth Champion in 1959 and in 1996 he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Singh included over 500 professional fights to his credit, all undefeated. He retired from wrestling in 1983.
Cinema’s loveable giant
Following his retirement, Dara Singh turned towards showbiz in 1952 with Sangdil.
He went on to star in many films later on, including King Kong (1962),Faulad (1963), Darasingh: Ironman (1964), Daku Mangal Singh (1966) andWarrant (1975).
Even though most of his films were relegated to a B-grade category, Singh made special appearances in mainstream films like Mera Naam Joker(1970), Ajooba (1991), Dillagi (1999) and Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003). He was last seen playing Kareena Kapoor\\\’s grandfather in Jab We Met (2007).
But it was the iconic TV series Ramayan (1986) which made Dara Singh a household name. He worked in some television shows, including Had KarDi which was aired on Zee TV and Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka on Star Plus.
Filmmaker Manmohan Desai paid Singh an unusual compliment when he signed him for Mard.
"Amitabh Bachchan is playing the title role of Mard. I was wondering who could be his father… If Amitabh plays Mard, then his father can be DaraSingh only. This is why I took Dara Singh in the film," Desai had said.
One of his notable friends was actress Mumtaz, with whom he starred in 16 Hindi films including Faulad (1963), Veer Bhimsen (1964), Hercules (1964),Aandhi Aur Toofan (1964), Tarzan Comes to Delhi, Tarzan and King Kong(1965), Sikandar-e-Azam (1965), Rustom-E-Hind (1965).
Besides acting, he produced and directed Punjabi films.
He was a member of Rajya Sabha from Bhartiya Janata Party from August 2003 to August 2009.