Dara Singh (19 November 1928 – 12 July 2012) was an Indian wrestler-turned-actor.
He started acting in 1952 and was the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) of India.
He worked as Hindi and Punjabi film producer, director and writer, and he acted in films and television.
Dara Singh was born on 19 November in 1928 in the village of Dharmuchak, which was then a part of British Punjab and is in Amritsar district.
As an adult he was 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall, weighed 127 kilograms (280 lb) and had a chest measurement of 53 inches (130 cm).
Due to his physique, he was encouraged to take up Pehlwani, an Indian style of wrestling.
He wrestled frequently in haats and melas (fairs and carnivals).
His last tournament, where he announced his retirement, was held in Delhi in 1983, inaugurated by Rajiv Gandhi and the winning trophy was presented by Giani Zail Singh.
In 1996 he was inducted into the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Singh left his village for Singapore in 1948.
He started his career as an actor in 1952 with Sangdil.
He was a stunt film actor for many years and played his first lead role in Babubhai Mistry’s film King Kong (1962).
From around 1963 he partnered often with Mumtaz, with whom he performed in 16 Hindi films. The couple became the highest-paid B-grade actors, with Singh receiving nearly four lakh rupees per film.
He then went on to do television in the late 1980s, where he played the role of Hanuman in the television adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayan.
He was liked more in the role of ‘Bheem Sen’ in films like Veer Bheem Sen and Ramayan and in role of ‘Hanuman’ both in films and TV serial. He worked with Prathviraj Kapoor in Sikander-e-Aazam, Khakaan, Lootera, Daku Mangalsingh and Insaaf.
He also played the Alexander in Sikander-e-Aazam. He worked in some television serial shows, including Had Kar Di which was aired on Zee TV and Kyaa Hoga Nimmo Kaa for StarOne.
His last Hindi movie was Jab We Met and last Punjabi movie released before his illness was Dil Apna Punjabi. He acted in National Award winning film Main Maa Punjab Dee directed by Balwant Singh Dullat.
He directed seven Punjabi including Sawa Lakh Se Ek Ladaun, Nanak Dukhiya Sub Sansar, Dhyanu Bhagat, Rab Dian Rakhan.
He also directed two films in Hindi, Bhakti Mein Shakti and Rustom (1982). He produced 8 films and wrote the story for 7 films. These films were produced and directed under the banner “Dara Film” which he set up in 1970.
Singh was the owner of Dara Studio at Mohali, District Mohali, Punjab. Dara Film Studio was founded in 1978. The Studio is operational since 1980 as film studio.
Singh became the first sportsman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha — the upper house of the Parliament of India. He served in that role between 2003 and 2009. He was also president of the Jat Mahasabha.
Dara Singh married twice. He had a son, Parduman Singh Randhawa, from his first marriage and from his second marriage he had five children: two sons and three daughters including Vindu Dara Singh, who is a film and television actor.
He was admitted in Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital on 7 July 2012 following a cardiac arrest.
He died on 12 July 2012 at his home in Mumbai. He was cremated at Juhu crematorium.