Bollywood’s first He-man

K. Raghavendra Rao Mumbai | Updated on July 12, 2012

Wrestler-actor Dara Singh

Physical instructors in schools motivated their students to be as strong as Dara Singh

Wrestler-actor Dara Singh,83, who passed away here after a brief illness, was an entertainer for the entire family.

His final bow, Jab We Met, pretty much epitomised this image. He played the grand old patriarch of Kareena Kapoor’s huge Punjabi family, and told his great grandchildren that he could make out what was in the other person’s mind just by looking at his/her face!

In the 1980s, he took the small screen by storm with his portrayal of Hanuman in Ramayan, which had the entire nation transfixed. The role of Hanuman perfectly suited his six-feet-two-inch bodybuilder frame.

Dara Singh was Hindi cinema’s first He-man, a mantle which later passed on to fellow actor Dharmendra. Mumtaz was his favourite leading lady and the two starred in over a dozen films.

His prominent films included Sikandar E Azam, Rustom E Baghdad, Daku Mangal Singh and Raaka. These were fun, time-pass films which did reasonably well at the box-office.  Dara Singh is, however, still remembered for his cameo in Anand where, as the protective wrestler, reel life met real life.

He played father to Amitabh Bachchan in the 1980’s hit Mard. He did the same role when the film was remade as Maaveeran in Tamil with Rajinikanth in the lead.

In addition to acting, he opened Dara Studios in Mohali, Punjab, offering modern equipment for shooting films, serials and music videos. He has also produced about a dozen Hindi and Punjabi films.

The ad industry, and those who watch ads without quickly flipping channels, will remember his famous promotion of egg consumption with the punchline “ Sunday ho ya Monday roz khao andey” (Sunday or Monday, eat eggs everyday).

Off screen, Dara Singh was India’s top gun in the wrestling arena. A professional wrestler in the 1950s and ‘60s he won the Commonwealth wrestling championship in 1959 and the World wrestling championship in 1968.

Almost a household name for his wrestling and body-building, physical instructors in schools motivated their students to be as strong as Dara Singh.

He was also a member of the Rajya Sabha representing the BJP from 2003 to 2008. A non-controversial film personality, he is survived by his wife and five children.

Published on July 12, 2012

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