The Story of Dara Singh – The Original Sultan of Bollywood
Dara Singh had many sides to his personality. On the one hand, he was a popular professional wrestler who stomped into the arena and thrilled the crowed with his masculine moves. And on the other, he was a macho man who charmed his way into Bollywood and enthralled audiences.
On his 88th birth anniversary, we at The Quint pay a tribute to our very first desi superhero (yes, one of the first) in tinsel town and the many other ‘firsts’ he had under his name way before Aamir Khan and Salman Khan made wrestling fashionable.
King Kong: Original Action Hero
Dara Singh was crowned the original action hero after he made his debut in Sangdil (1952), followed by Pehli Jhalak (1955) and Jagga Daku (1959), but it was Nanabhai, Mahesh Bhatt’s father, who directed Dara in King Kong, which went on to become a blockbuster. Dara was the desi Schwarzenegger mostly known for his brawn than his looks or acting. Soon, the 132 kg pehlwan ruled the masses.
Dare to Bare!
If you thought, Dharmendra’s drool-worthy, intimidating bare-chested look in Phool Aur Patthar (1966) was the first time a star revealed himself on the silver screen, you are wrong, my friends.
The badge of bare-chasteness was first pinned on to Dara Singh. Yes. He was proud to flaunt his rippling muscles frequently. But we still love you Dharam paaji!
The gentle giant not just enthralled the masses but also wooed the younger audience. Dara Singh brought alive the monkey god Hanuman in Bajrangbali (1976) and in the popular mythological serial Ramayana on Doordarshan in the 80s. For fans, Dara’s Hanuman look will always remain immortal. So Sallu Bhai, you might be adored for your Bajrangi bhakt act but ab yeh karke dikhao!
Hello Rajya Sabha!
From akharas to the Rajya Sabha, it had been a long journey of ‘firsts’ for Dara Singh, affectionally called Balwanji in his village. Dara Singh with his Hanuman-fame flew right into the Rajya Sabha, making him the first sportsman to be nominated by the Bhartiya Janata Party (August 2003 till August 2009).
(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on Dara Singh’s birth anniversary on 19 November 2015.)
(The Quint is now on WhatsApp. To receive handpicked stories on topics you care about, subscribe to our WhatsApp services. Just go to TheQuint.com/WhatsApp and hit the Subscribe button.)