Wrestler-turned-actor Dara Singh, who was battling for his life in a Mumbai hospital for a week, passed away on Thursday. He was 84. Singh was shifted back home on Wednesday night after doctors said he has “less chance of recovery due to significant damage to his brain.
Born to Balwant Kaur and Surat Singh Randhawa on 19 November, 1928 in the Dharmuchak village of Amritsar district in Punjab; apart from professional wrestling championships, Dara Singh displayed his skills on invitations from princely states and entertained spectators with his wrestling in open haats and melas too. In India and abroad, the champion wrestler had numerous times been pitted against some of the ‘strongest’ names in the history of wrestling, and he came out of the wrestling rings, unscathed, undefeated.
Dara Singh’s enviable career entailed touring all the Commonwealth countries and winning all contests, which left many wondering about the reason behind the man’s immense success. And as they say, sheer hard work was the unadulterated road to the wrestler’s indomitable achievements. Dara Singh defeated Oriental Champion King Kong, George Gordienko of Canada, John Desilva of New Zealand among the more famous names, and many other wrestlers all over the world. May 29, 1968 was the day when Singh was crowned the Champion of the World. In 1983, ‘Rustum-e-Hind’ announced his retirement from wrestling, and even then, he stood undefeated. His last tournament, where the news of his retirement was broken to the public, saw Rajiv Gandhi inaugurating the event and Dr. Giani Zail Singh presenting him with the trophy of the winner.
Having earned a bevy of titles including that of the ‘Rustum-e-Hind’, Singh was then bequeathed the title of ‘Action King’ when he ventured into the Hindi film industry.
Dara Singh’s envious physique was the chief reason behind his selection in films such as ‘Daaku Mangal Singh’ and ‘Daada’. Slowly and steadily he became the action king of Hindi films. One of the initial actors to take his shirt off, Dara Singh discovered the acting potential of Mumtaz. Later, Mumtaz went on to become one of the sought after actresses of Bollywood.
Dara Singh became a household name after the telecast of Ramanand Sagar’s legendary TV serial ‘Ramayana’. Singh’s popularity can be measured from the fact that his face became the lord Hanuman’s face on the posters. His other TV serials such as ‘Had Kar Di’ and ‘Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka’ also gained fame amongst the viewers, mostly because of his presence.
Recently, he was seen in ‘Jab We Met’. Once again his effervescent presence made the entire climax look lighter and funny. He leaves behind a bereaved family and innumerable dejected fans and followers, and an unparalleled collection of films. Dara Singh’s is a legacy that will never be replaced in Indian Cinema.