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Former Wrestler-actor Dara Singh passes away in Mumbai

Mumbai: Former wrestling champion and actor Dara Singh died at his home here today morning following a brief illness, doctors treating him said. He was 84.

“Dara Singh passed away peacefully at 7.30 a.m. this (Thursday) morning,” said Ram Narain, COO, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital, where the actor was being treated before he was shifted to his Juhu home late.

“Angel now gone to shine like a star up above,”  said Vindu Dara Singh the actor’s son, after his father’s death.

Dara Singh had been undergoing dialysis at the hospital.

It was his family’s wish that he should be home in the last stages of his life, a hospital official had said Wednesday.

He is survived by his wife and six children – three sons and three daughters. One of his sons, Vindu Dara Singh, is a known name in showbiz.

The veteran actor was rushed to Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Saturday by his family members following a cardiac problem. He had been in a critical condition since then. Two days later, he was put on dialysis after his kidneys stopped functioning.

Dara Singh, who had won the title of “Rustam-e-Hind” for his wrestling prowess, appeared in various films and TV serials.He is best known for his portrayal of Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s “Ramayan” and in B.R. Chopra’s “Mahabharat”.

He had appeared in films like “Watan Se Door”, “Daada”, “Rustom-E-Baghdad”, “Sher Dil”, “Sikandar E Azam”, “Raaka”, “Mera Naam Joker” and “Dharam Karam”. He was last seen in the 2007 release “Jab We Met”.

In his over five-decade long acting journey, he featured in over 140 films, including classics such as “Anand” and “Mera Naam Joker”.

A wrestling hero to some and a much loved cine artist to others, it was a long and eventful life that triumphed many odds.

It was a many splendoured life.

There was Dara Singh the wrestler, Dara Singh, the hero of ‘B’ category action films such as “Tarzan Comes to Delhi” and “Samson” in the 1950s and 1960s, Dara Singh, the friendly ‘pehelwan’ in “Anand”, and then Dara Singh who played Hanuman with great effect in the TV blockbusters “Ramayan” and “Mahabharat”.

He was last seen in the Kareena Kapoor-Shahid Kapoor starrer “Jab We Met” as the stern, lovable ‘Daarji’ who ruled over a noisy, close-knit Sikh family. Quite like the real life man, who intimidated people with his 6′ 2″ frame but soon won them over with outgoing nature and warmth.

Born to Balwant Kaur and Surat Singh Randhawa Nov 19, 1928 in a village in Amritsar, Punjab, Dara Singh was encouraged to take up wrestling due to his imposing physique and trained in ‘pehelwani’, an Indian style of wrestling.

He became a star wrestler – and not just on Indian turf.

Dara Singh took on international wrestlers like Lou Thesz and Stanislaus Zbyszko, and had over 500 professional fights to his credit – all undefeated.

He won the Professional Indian Wrestling Championship in 1953, and took away the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship trophy in 1959 by defeating Canadian champion George Godianko. A recipient of titles like Rustam-E-Punjab (1966) and Rustam-E-Hind (1978), Dara Singh retired from active wrestling in 1983.

In 1989, he published his autobiography “Meri Atmakatha” in Punjabi, and seven years later was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.

And while he was wrestling, he was making a name in cinema – both Hindi and Punjabi.

His first release was the 1952 “Sangdil” and then came a succession of films like “King Kong”, “Faulad”, “Sher-e-Watan” that earned him the name of Bollywood’s action king.

During his hey day as a hero, he teamed up with Mumtaz in 16 Hindi films, including “Jawan Mard”, “Raaka”, “Aandhi Aur Toofan”, “Daku Mangal Singh”, “Boxer” and “Veer Bhimsen”.

Another successful phase in Dara Singh’s acting career came when he bagged the role of Hanuman in Ramanand Sagar’s epochal TV series “Ramayan” in 1986. People liked him so much that B.R. Chopra roped him in to play the same role in “Mahabharat”.

Dara Singh gave viewers a glimpse of his humorous side through shows like “Hadd Kar Di” and “Kya Hoga Nimmo Ka”.

He became a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha from August 2003 to August 2009.

Dara Singh also took on the role of a writer, director and producer. In 1978, he launched Dara Studio, a self-contained mini-city with all facilities within the compound, in Punjab’s Mohali district.

Dara Singh, who was widowed and got married for the second time, leaves behind his wife, six children – three sons and three daughters. And legions of fans of a man who defined machismo.

 

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