Macho man

Macho man

Dara Singh, who passed away in Mumbai on July 12, was perhaps the best wrestling champion of India who turned to films by accident. He was never a great or accomplished actor. He never thought of himself as an actor of substance.

Born on November 19, 1928 in Punjab into a Sikh Jat family, he was encouraged into wrestling due to his physique.  As most Jats generally are, he was lion-hearted. Dara Singh never took credit for any of the countless occasions in which he helped the needy.

In the early ‘50s, he took to acting and film production with Unkhili Muttiar, Rustom and Bhakti Mein Shakti. His macho physique was his asset and he was swift in his movements. Dara Singh performed action scenes without any dummy

. He even helped co-stars perform stunts, which were impossible without his guidance. When Dev Anand was to perform some judo scenes with Dara Singh in Warrant, he was nervous. Dara Singh laughed his heart out and co-operated with his evergreen hero by actually training him in judo. Though Dev Anand looked unconvincing while performing those scenes, Dara Singh covered over the former’s lacunae with his own efforts.

He starred with Mumtaz in a large number of films in the ‘60s and actually groomed her before she became an actress of substance. Remembers Dharmendra, “We shared a great rapport in Mera Naam Joker. Dara Singh ji was very reluctant to perform the scene where he had to let the lions go out in the open to threaten Raj Kapoor saab, who was to perform as a joker in the circus. He held Raj saab in high esteem. The sport that he was, Raj saab was very co-operative in explaining to him the scene with minute details. Dara Singh ji performed the scene just as the script demanded.”

He even experimented with television in the 1980s and ‘90s, where he played the role of Hanuman in the television adaptation of the Ramayana. While he is known mostly for his Hanuman avatar, he has also acted in other television serials.

Dara Singh, along with Johny Walker, gave a performance in Anand which still haunts countless viewers. Never did he throw any tantrums while working. Says Rajesh Khanna, “Those who do not remember Dara Singh ji in Anand commit a vital mistake. In a guest appearance, Dara Singh ji was as effective as the main protagonists.”

The wrestler-turned-actor, director and producer often stated, “I am very grateful to this film industry for giving me so much of name and fame. Above all, I am thankful to my audience who have helped me earn my bread and butter. I am no great performer, but have stood the test of time.” Having acted in over 100 Hindi and Punjabi films, his last Bollywood appearance was in the 2007 hit movie, Jab We Met. Aside from acting, he also owned Dara Film Studio in Mohali, which was founded in 1978.

Randhir Kapoor has fond memories of working with Dara Singh. He recollects, “During the shooting of Ram Bharose, I came to know Dara Singh ji very well. He would ask and enquire about the welfare of all of us on the sets and worked round the clock without ever tiring. His energy was unlimited.”

A macho with a lion’s heart is what Dara Singh can be described as. He is no more with us and his soul now rests in peace. As Manoj Kumar points out, “Dara Singh ji will always be remembered for his noble and human qualities.”

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