Deedar Singh Randhawa, better known as Dara Singh, was a wrestler, actor, director, producer, and politician. He is best known for playing the role of ‘Hanuman’ in the Indian mythological series “Ramayan.” Dara Singh is popularly known as the ‘Ironman of Indian Cinema,’ ‘The Original Muscle Man of Bollywood,’ and ‘The Action King of Bollywood.’
Dara Singh was born on Monday, 19 November 1928 (age 83 years at the time of death) in Ratangarh Village, Gurdaspur District, Punjab. His zodiac sign was Scorpio. He grew up in Gurdaspur’s Dharmu Chak village. He left studies at an early age and carried out farming activities till 1946. During that time, he also did non-professional wrestling. In 1947, Dara, along with his uncle, moved to Singapore.
Height (approx.): 6′ 2″
Weight (approx): 130 kg
Body Measurements: Chest- 52″, Waist-38″, Biceps 18″
Hair Colour: Salt & Pepper
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Family & Caste
Parents & Siblings
Dara Singh belonged to a Jat Sikh Family. His father, Surat Singh Randhawa, was a farmer. His mother, Balwant Kaur Randhawa, was a homemaker. He had a brother, Sardara Singh Randhawa (actor & wrestler), who died in 2013. Sardara Singh Randhawa was married to the Bollywood actress, Malika.
Wife & Children
Dara Singh got married to Bachno Kaur in 1937. Together they had a son, Parduman Randhawa, who is an actor. Later, the couple got divorced.
After his divorce with Bachno Kaur, Dara Singh married Surjit Kaur Aulakh on 11 May 1961. The couple had two sons, Virender Singh Randhawa (Actor) and Amrik Singh Randhawa (Producer) and three daughters, Deepa Singh, Kamal Singh, and Loveleen Singh.
His nephew Shaad Randhawa is also an actor.
Dara is the brother-in-law of the actor, Ratan Aulakh (Singh’s wife’s brother). His son-in-law, Daman Maan, is also an actor. Daman is married to his eldest daughter, Kamal.
While in Singapore, Dara Singh started to work there in a drum-manufacturing mill. After looking at his build up physique, people encouraged him to take up wrestling as his career.
Singh, then worked at Singapore’s ‘Happy World Stadium’ for around 6 months, but, didn’t get any wrestling opportunity. Thereafter, he received training in wrestling from the coach Harnam Singh in the Great World Stadium. As he had a build-up physique, his coach encouraged him to take up Pehlwani, an Indian style of wrestling. As a professional wrestler, Singh competed with many popular wrestlers around the world like Bill Verna, Firpo Zbyszko, John Da Silva, Rikidozan, Danny Lynch, and Ski Hi Lee.
In 1950, he defeated the wrestler, Tarlok Singh, and became the ‘Champion of Malaysia’ in Pehlwani. Dara Singh received huge popularity in 1951 after he defeated the Australian-Indian professional wrestler “King Kong” in Sri Lanka.
In 1954, Singh won the Rustam-e-Hind Tournament by defeating Tiger Joginder Singh in the final and received a silver cup from Maharaja Hari Singh. Subsequently, he won the Commonwealth Championship (1959) by defeating George Gordienko. On 29 May 1968, Dara won the World Championship by defeating Lou Thesz in the final round. In addition to professional wrestling, he had also wrestled on the invitation of various Indian princely states. In June 1983, Singh announced his retirement in a tournament held in Delhi.
Dara was inducted into the ‘Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame’ in 1996. In April 2018, he was also inducted into the ‘WWE Hall of Fame.’
Dara Singh started his acting career in 1952 with the film “Sangdil.” Next, he appeared as a stunt man in films like “Pehli Jhalak” and “Engal Selvi.” In 1962, Singh played his first lead role in the film “King Kong.” He made his Punjabi film debut as an actor, writer, and director in 1970 with the film “Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar.” His Malayalam film debut came in the year 1985 with the film “Mutharamkunnu P.O.” Subsequently, he partnered with Mumtaz and worked in around 16 Hindi films with her. The pair became the highest paid B-grade actors (Singh received around Rs 4 lakh per film).
Dara Singh made his television debut in 1987 by playing the role of ‘Hanuman’ in the Indian mythological television drama “Ramayan.” Thereafter he worked in many TV serials and films. Singh had also played the role of ‘Bheem’ and ‘Balram’ in many “Mahabharata” films. He also featured as ‘Shiva’ in many mythological films.
His last film as a lead actor was ‘Rustom’ (1982). Thereafter, he played character roles in the films. The last Hindi film that he worked in was “Jab We Met” and his last Punjabi movie released before his death was “Dil Apna Punjabi.” Singh had also directed several Punjabi films like “Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun,” “Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar,” “Dhyanu Bhagat,” and “Rab Dian Rakhan.”
Dara Singh campaigned for the Congress party with Zail Singh and Sanjay Gandhi for the mid-term Lok Sabha election in 1979. In January 1998, Singh joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Subsequently, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha- the upper house of the Indian Parliament. He served as the member of Rajya Sabha from 2003 to 2009. Dara Singh was also the president of the Jat Mahasabha.
In 1970s, Singh’s film “Raj Karega Khaalsa” attracted a controversy when the ruling government at the center banned the film on the pretext of “Seditious Elements.” When Dara Singh went to lobby for his film, a veteran politician, Giani Zail Singh’ asked him to replace the work “Sarkar” with another word. Dara agreed and replaced the work with “Raj.” The film also faced opposition from many hardcore Sikh orgaisations. Later, when Dara Singh himself came into the politics, the film was released with the title “Sava Lakh Se Ek Ladaun.”
Awards & Achievements
- Won Professional Indian Wrestling Championship (1953)
- Won Commonwealth Wrestling Championship by defeating Canadian Champion, George Godianko (1959)
- Rustam-e-Punjab (1966)
- Won World Wrestling Championship by defeating “Lou Thesz” of America (1968)
- Rustam-e-Hind (1978)
- Best Actor Award for the film ‘Jagga’ (1964) by the Government of India which was presented by Indira Gandhi.
Salary & Net Worth
Dara Singh’s net worth was expected to be approx. $4 million. He used to earn Rs. 4 lakh per film.
On 7 July 2012, Dara Singh suffered a massive heart attack and was admitted into Mumbai’s Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital. After two days, the doctors confirmed that he had brain damage due to the lack of blood flow. Singh was discharged from the hospital on 11 July 2012. The next day (12 July 2012), he died at his home in Mumbai. He was cremated at the Juhu Crematorium.
- His hobbies included travelling and doing wrestling.
- He got married to his first wife, Bachno Kaur, when he was just 9 years old.
- Apparently, at the time of his marriage, his wife was more tall and healthy then Dara Singh. So, his parents started taking more care of his diet.
- Reportedly, Dara Singh fought his first professional wrestling match with an Italian wrestler and the match was a draw.
- The first prize money that he earned from a wrestling match was $50.
- In 1952, Singh became the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
- Dara Singh bagged the role of a wrestler in 1954 in the film “Pehli Jhalak” in which there was a scene where, Om Prakash, dreams of wrestling with “Dara Singh.” The scene had no dialogues and was shot without any difficulties.
- As a wrestler, his most memorable fight took place on 12 December 1956, when Dara Singh lifted the “King Kong” of Australia, who weighted around 200 kg, and twirled him around.
- In 1960, Singh got another offer to wrestle with ‘Bhagwan Dada’ in the film “Bhakt Raj,” but he had to speak four to five dialogues in the film. As Dara was not able to speak the dialogues properly at that time, his dialogues were dubbed by another artist.
- Dara Singh disclosed in an interview that his command over languages was poor, and thus, teachers were kept to teach him Urdu and Hindi when he started working in the Indian cinema.
- In 1962, after the release of the film “King Kong,” a fan of him wrote a letter to Dara asking, “You are India’s Bheem, why do you play Bheem.” His lines touched Dara to an extent that he won the World Wrestling Championship.
- In 1963, the film director, Mohammed Hussain, and the film producer, Vinod Doshi, wanted to sign a popular actress opposite Dara Singh in the film “Faulad.” However, none of the them were ready to act opposite him. Later, Hussain and Doshi signed the actress “Mumtaz” (who used to play small roles in the films at that time) for the film. The film was a huge hit at the box office.
- Thereafter, Dara Singh acted in over 16 films with Mumtaz, and among them, 10 films were hit at the box office.
- In 1968, Dara Singh became the second Indian wrestler to win the “World Wrestling Championship,” after Gama Pehalwan.
- In 1978, Dara Singh founded the ‘Dara Film Studio’ in Mohali, Punjab.
- Singh served as the chairman of the ‘Cine and TV Artist Association’ (CINTAA)’ for several years.
- In 1989, he published his autobiography in Punjabi titled “Meri Aatm Katha.”
- Dara Singh travelled the world for wrestling tournaments, except China.
- Singh has also worked in some shelved films like ‘Naagvanshi’ (1993), ‘Hamara Kanoon’ (1998), ‘Lohe Ka Dil’ (1999), and ‘Balle Balle America’ (2000).
- During his wrestling career, Singh did around 500 professional fights, and he didn’t even lose a single one.
- Once, there were rumours that the person who has earned a big name in the Indian wrestling is not the real Dara Singh. An unknown person appeared and said, “While I was in imprisonment, this person (Dara Singh) has used my name to earn popularity. Later, it was found that the stranger was none other than his brother, Parduman Randhawa, who later earned a big name in acting and wrestling.
- He remained the president of the ‘Jat Mahasabha,’ an organization of Jats in India untill his death in 2012.
- The Indian author, Seema Sonik Alimchand, wrote a book titled “Deedara aka Dara Singh,” which was based on Dara Singh’s life.” The book was launched in December 2016 by Akshay Kumar.
- In 2019, a statue of him was erected in his honour at Phase 6, Mohali, Punjab, next to Dara Studio.
- Dara Singh appeared in around 122 Hindi films and 22 Punjabi films in his acting career.
- Singh has featured in two national award winning Punjabi films, “Jagga” and “Mai Maa Punjab Dee.”
- Dara Singh is also the subject of a comic book “The Epic Journey of the Great Dara Singh,” which was launched at the Oxford Bookstore in New Delhi in 2019 by his son, Vindu Dara Singh.