Wrestler-actor Dara Singh dies at 83

The he-man of the 60’s, wrestler and actor Dara Singh, 83, died today in Mumbai. He was admitted to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital last Saturday and was undergoing dialysis.

Decorated with titles such as Rustum-e-Punjab and Rustum-e-Hind for his wrestling poweress, Dara Singh Randhava was born in Amritsar in 1928. He studied pehelwani as a child. A wrestling champ, he made his way from local tournaments to the international arena competing with some of the biggest names like Oriental Champion King Kong, George Gordienko. The wrestler who had over 500 fights to his credit was the Commonwealth champion in 1959 and Champion of the World in 1968. He retired from wrestling in 1983.

He made his entry into films in early 1960s and was cast opposite actress Mumtaz in several movies. Often regarded as the Action King of Bollywood in the Hollywood inspired Hindi films such as Tarzan and King Kong amongst many others.

But his most memorable performance remains as Hanuman on the popular 1980’s television series Ramayan.

The actor who also directed several punjabi films continued to act in films and was last seen in the hit movie, Jab We Met in 2007.


  1. Author
    sputnik 9 years ago

    Just a couple of days back I was watching a scene from JWM on some TV channel and it happened to be a scene involving Dara Singh.


  2. hithere 9 years ago

    Apart from all other charcters..he sure would be remembered for Hanuman portrayal..

  3. aryan 9 years ago


  4. Author
    sputnik 9 years ago

    Old Interview of Dara Singh

    Dara gets ready to take Hanuman’s name, enter his new akhara

    Long before Arnold Schwarznegger, there was Dara Singh. And the pehelwan from Amritsar was not a mere governor of a province, instead he was Bajrangbali. He was both Samson and Hanuman. He was ‘Rustom-i-Hind’, a national cult figure whose name became a generic term for any youth blessed with thunder in his forearms. Shooting for a tele-serial in Chandigarh, Singh is preparing for his first term as Rajya Sabha MP which begins early next month. Is he looking forward to it? ‘‘I will take the name of Hanuman and enter the akhara!’’ he beams.

    He was born an illiterate peasant in Dharmuchak village outside Amritsar, his father was a factory labourer in Singapore, he was married off at the age of ten, left Punjab for Singapore at the age of 18, started life as a mud wrestler, was best buddies with the legendary American wrestler Lou Thesz, became Indian wrestling champion in ’53 and world champion in ’68. Now he’s 75, has no health problems (he lives on milk, dry fruits, chicken and ghee) and is as gentle, unassuming and determinedly rustic as any Punjabi giant ought to be.

    What plans for Indian development? ‘‘A strong digestive system for all,’’ he smiles. ‘‘Every child should be tandurust. You know how pehlwans assess good health? If you can drink a jug of ghee and not get the sh**s, then you will be as great a wrestler as Bheem.’’ In addition to excellent bowels, no child, he believes, should be as uneducated as he was. ‘‘I only learnt English after I began signing international contracts. I asked myself, now what is it that I am signing? I mastered English in a year,’’ he smiles proudly.

    WWF, Hulk Hogan, Terminator et al, he believes is all ‘‘show baazi’’. Nor does he believe in gyms. The best exercise is available in an akhara. ‘‘These gyms charge money. But an akhara is free for anyone and the ustad treats everyone well.’’ Best tonic of all? Mother’s milk, of course. Secret of his strength? ‘‘I had a double dose of my mother’s milk,’’ he smiles broadly, ‘‘I drank it until I was almost three or four.’’ Wrestlers like Tiger Joginder, the American George Godeonco, Mighty Mongol, Vasant Singh Sucha Singh, most either dead or back in their villages, could teach politicians a thing or two. ‘‘Pehelwans are very straight simple people. They don’t tell lies like politicians do.’’

    He says he was offered a ticket many times by many parties but has chosen this particular moment to join because he believes it’s important that India stays liberal. ‘‘Vajpayee doesn’t listen to the VHP and others. We should all be ‘Indian’ and not fight. The Atma is with God.’’ But the economy? ‘‘That’s with the country. If only there were more jobs, there would be no maar kaat. The big question for everyone is, kaise zindagi chalegi?’’

    Enlightenment must come to all. ‘‘Until today I am upset with my family for marrying me at the age of ten to a girl older than me. I remember when I went for the wedding, I used to still wet my bed. My mother had warned me not to drink milk because of my bed-wetting problem, but it didn’t work. The marriage also didn’t work out and ended in divorce.’’ Too many young people are forced into marriage at an early age. ‘‘People in the village are so unknowing. They know nothing except their own customs.’’ His own five children are all educated and married, one of them runs a TV studio, another tried a career in films but failed.

    His own film career, he says, suffered because no heroine would agree to work with a pehelwan. The lucky break came with Mumtaz who agreed to act with him in the film Samson. Hanuman, he says, remains his most popular role, and films like Mera Desh Mera Dharam were hits. He became an actor because he realised that after a certain age there would be no livelihood from wrestling. Although he didn’t know any Hindi and his early dialogue was dubbed, today he says he speaks it fluently.

    Sitting on the vast tasteless sets of the Chandigarh tele-serial, Singh makes his huge hands into mammoth fists. ‘‘Grip,’’ he says, ‘‘is the most important indicator of strength. For how long can you hold on to something?’’ As a new Parliament session rolls around, perhaps the next time the honorable MPs lose hold on themselves, they might remember that Dara Singh is watching.


  5. Author
    sputnik 9 years ago

    Dara Singh’s kindness got me my first role: Mumtaz

    I was 15 when I did my first film as a lead actress. The year was 1963 and I played Rajkumari Padma opposite Daraji in Faulad. Till then, I’d been working as a child artiste. After that, we did many films together.

    It was my films with Daraji that got me noticed, and slowly my career began to gather momentum. All this happened over 50 years ago, so I don’t remember much, but I do remember that it was his kindness that got me my first break as a lead actress.

    Interestingly, in those days few actresses wanted to be cast opposite him as he was a wrestler and did B-grade films. I was the only actress who agreed to work with him because no big hero of that time wanted to work with me. Slowly, after doing 16 films together, we became the highest paid B grade actor and actress. While he earned almost ` 4 lakh per film, I made ` 2.5 lakh, which was a huge amount back then!

    After working with Daraji, my luck changed for the better. I got to work with A-grade stars like Rajendra Kumar, Feroz Khan and Rajesh Khanna. I went into a better league. After I got married to Mayur (Madhvani) and shifted to London, Daraji and I fell out of touch. But when my sister Mallika married his younger brother Randhawa, I would meet him occasionally at her home or he would come over to ours. I had very high regard for him. He was a down-to-earth, simple man with no airs. He also had a very big heart. Anybody who came to him for help was never turned away.

    Daraji was also a very disciplined man, just like Sunil Dutt or Dilip Kumar. He would come on the sets bang on time. He was known as an action hero and would do all the stunts himself. That is why both he and Randhawa developed knee problems later.

    In those days, we would do as many as 30 films a year, and Daraji would do double — sometimes even triple — shifts. He was much in demand for his stunts and action sequences, and they would keep him going from 7 am to midnight for months. Doing fight sequences for 2-3 films all in the same day required lots of stamina. It wasn’t easy for him, but still he managed to do it for several years. He was one of the most hard-working heroes I’d ever met. May his soul rest in peace.


Leave a reply

Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?