India's First Superhero
By MovieTalkies.com, 13 July 2012
Dara Singh, born as Deedar Singh Randhawa, is a legendary Indian wrestler-turned-film actor. Singh was born on November 19, 1928 in Dharmuchak of Amritsar district in Punjab. Owing to his massive physique, he was encouraged to study Pehlwani (an Indian style of wrestling). A favourite in Indian wrestling tournaments, he was also invited by royals to participate in fairs and carnivals. Dara went to Singapore in 1947 to pursue a career in other avenues. However, the wrestling bug had already bit him by then. He was crowned the Champion of Malaysia by beating Tarlok Singh in Kuala Lumpur. He returned to India in 1952 and was crowned as the Indian Champion in 1954.
Simultaneously, he even pursued a career in acting. He debuted in the 1962 film King Kong followed by Faulad and Hercules, where he played roles true to his image of an 'Iron Man'. Some of his movies like Rustom-E-Rome (1963), Rustom-E-Baghdad (1962) and Rustom-E-Hind (1964) heightened his image but due to his limitations, he had to restrict himself to lesser known films. His other films include Raaka and Har Har Mahadev. Singh has over 500 professional fights to his credit, all undefeated. 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.
There were many other films of his like Aaya Toofan, Sher-E-Watan, Shankar Khan and Balraj Shri Krishna which were thronged by the North Indian wrestlers. Dara Singh did many character roles also and the one role he is highly remembered for was from Manmohan Desai directed Mard. He made a large number of Hindi films which had him in the lead. One of his notable finds was the actress Mumtaz with whom he had performed in 16 Hindi films. Dara Singh turned producer at one time of his career and churned out Punjabi movies like Nanak Dukhiya Sab Sansar which did well in that part of the country.
Dara Singh even gave special appearances in RK Films like Mera Naam Joker and Dharam Karam. Long before we had action heroes like Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Salman Khan, Dara was the first star to start the trend of taking his shirt off. He announced his retirement in 1983 and was presented his final winning trophy by the then-President Giani Zail Singh. He then went on to do television in the 1980s and 1990s where he played the role of 'Hanuman' in the mythological television serial Ramayan.
He worked in other television shows such as Hadh Kar Di which was aired on Zee TV, besides playing patriarchal roles in films such as Ajooba, Zulmi, Dillagi, Sharaarat and Kal Ho Naa Ho. He was last seen on the big screen in Imtiaz Ali's Jab We Met, where he played Kareena Kapoor's grandfather. He was nominated member of Rajya Sabha by Bhartiya Janata Party during August 2003 - August 2009. His son Vindu Dara Singh has also made his entry into Hindi films with supporting roles in Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Kambakkht Ishq, Housefull and the likes. Vindu also featured in the third season of the popular reality show Bigg Boss.
He was admitted in Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital on July 7, 2012, following a cardiac arrest. He passed away on 12 July 2012 at his residence in Mumbai. Dara Singh leaves behind a great legacy in the world of wrestling and films. He will be truly missed.
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