Friday, July 13, 2012

A life too mighty for words

The man who wrestled all his life, until his last breath…
As thousands of hearts prayed in unison for his speedy recovery, Dara Singh bid adieu to the ‘Ring of Life’ on the 12th of July at 7:30 in the morning. Over the past week, news channels were replete with news on the ailing wrestler. He was admitted to Mumbai's Kokilaben Hospital on July 7 following a cardiac arrest. With severe brain damage, kidney failure, doctors cited that hopes of his survival were bleak, while Dara desired to spend his final moments in the comforts of his home and his family.
A man of formidable might, Dara was a born Pehlwan. He was encouraged to study Pehlwani as a kid on account of his great physique. Soon, he was seen wrestling at local haats and melas. Standing tall, with ripping muscles he was the ultimate fear of the mightiest of akhada champions. He won the most acclaimed titles of the wrestling ring namely ‘Rustam-e-Punjab’ and ‘Rustam-e-Hind’. He competed against Kings of Princely states, on invitation and also faced international wrestlers like King Kong (Australia), George Gordienko (Canada), John Desilva (New Zealand). With his 6’ 2” frame, he could tower over those he was not fond of, yet he was known to be a man of friendly ways.  Invincible, against 500 odd competitors, he carved a reputation for India in the sport. He won the Commonwealth Wrestling Championship in 1959.
He ventured into the unknown territory of films and earned for himself the title ‘Action King of Bollywood’. Such was his command and stature that films were named after him. King Kong (1962), Faulad (1963), Darasingh: Ironman (1964), Daku Mangal Singh (1966) are a few names out of the hundred movies he starred in. Although most of his films were categorized as ‘B’ grade, Indian stunts were no longer termed as ‘amateur’ or ‘tacky’. The TV audiences of the 80s recollect Dara as prodigious Hanuman of Ramayan. People started worshipping him off posters and in person, making him a household name. Yes, one could actually imagine this Hanuman to carry off a mountain for real. He last appeared in Jab We Met as Kareena Kapoor’s stern grandfather and also on the TV show ‘Kya hoga Nimmo ka’. He had his foray in the world of politics as well. But he was, is and continues to be remembered as a wrestler.
He was a childhood hero to many of today’s directors and action enthusiasts. Directors could visualize him in stereotypical roles of power and vigor. For actors, he was an icon and an inspiring figure to work with. For a lay man, his name was synonymous with strength and might. He also founded a Film studio in Punjab in 1978, equipped with the best of facilities, which continues to function even today.
As news of his death spread, a number of celebs, directors, politicians tweeted their condolences to his bereaved family. They fondly remember him as ‘Rustam-e-Hind’ (the undefeated champion of the Akhada), the ‘Strong man of India’. For many, he was a larger than life, humble person. His family, survived by his wife and six children, is battling memories.
Alas! We wish he had wrestled his way back to recovery. We pray that His soul rests in Eternal Peace.

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