Dara Singh Randhawa, Ironman of Indian Cinema as he is fondly called, was the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha of India in 1952. The same year he debuted in a film adaptation of the Charlotte Brontë classic Jane Eyre called Sangdil
which also starred Dilip Kumar
, and Leela Chitnis
. Dara is known for his portrayal as Hanuman in the televised adaptation of Ramayan. He has donned many hats, right from being a professional wrestler, to an actor, writer, director, producer, and a politician. Dara has the honor of being inducted into the professional wrestling Hall of Fame, Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame since 1996. On July 12, 2012 "The Original Muscle Man of Bollywood" known for his rugged masculinity succumbed to a heart attack.
Dara was born in Dharamchuk village, a part of British Punjab now Amritsar, India. In 1947, he went to Singapore to work for a drum manufacturing mill as a watchman and trained for wrestling under Harnam Singh in the Great World Stadium. His physique encouraged him to take up the Indian style of wrestling, ‘pehlwani’ before Dara took to professional training. Since then he has traveled around the world and has defeated several opponents like Bill Verna, John Da Silva, and Ski Hi Lee, and King Kong. He won the Commonwealth Championship by beating George Gordienko in 1959 at Calcutta (Kolkata). In 1968, he became the World Wrestling Champion by defeating Lou Thesz, a six-time World Champion from Michigan, USA. He retired from professional wrestling in June 1983 after his last tournament in Delhi.
Dara Singh was born to Surat Singh and Balwant Kaur on November 19, 1928. He married Bachno Kaur when he was 14 and had a son when he was 16. After him moving to Singapore they estranged, and Dara married Surjit Kaur in 1961. He has three daughters and two sons including Vindu Dara Singh
, an actor, Parduman Randhawa, also an actor, and Amrik Singh Randhawa, a film producer.
As an Actor
Dara started his acting career in 1952 with Sangdil
but was a stunt film actor for many years until his 1962 release King Kong by Babubhai Mistry
, where he played the lead role. Other movies where he played the lead role include Samson, Lutera, Faulad
. Dara partnered with Mumtaz
and acted in 16 films since 1963 to become the highest paid B-grade actors, with Dara earning INR four lakhs and Mumtaz earning INR two and a half lakhs per film. He then appeared in many Punjabi and Hindi (Bollywood) movies. In 1987, he appeared in the movie “Mard
” starring Amitabh Bachchan
. Dara played Amitabh Bachchan’s father in the film as Manmohan Desai
, the director, and producer of the film was sure nobody, but Dara could play the character of “Mard’s”, Amitabh’s character, father. His last Hindi movie was the 2007 romantic drama Jab We Met
where he played the protagonist Geet’s, portrayed by Kareena Kapoor Khan
, grand-father and his last Punjabi film was Dil Apna Punjabi also starring Harbhajan Mann
and Neeru Bajwa
where played the head of a Punjabi family, Sardar Hardam Singh.
As a director
He set up his banner Dara Film in 1970 and directed seven Punjabi films including Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun, Nanak Dukhiya, Rab Dian Rakhan and two Hindi films Bhakti Mein Shakti and Rustom
As a producer
He has produced two movies, the 1978 Bhakti Mein Shakti where he acted and played the character of Dyanu Bhakt, and in 1994 he produced the action movie Karan
, starring his son Vindu Singh
and actress Trishna
His late 1980s stint in the television adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayana as Hanuman is etched in the audiences’ memory. He played Hanuman in the 1988 televised Mahabharat as well. In 2004, he appeared in the television series Family Business, and in 2006, in Kyaa Hoga Nimmo Kaa as Amardeep Sehgal (Dadaji).
As a Politician
Being the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha he served from 2003-2009.
In 1989 his book titled, ‘Meri Atmakatha' was published in Punjabi.