About the book
This is the remarkable story of Rustam-E-Hind Dara Singh, a man who epitomized unbridled masculinity, superhuman strength and incredible grit. He was the first Indian wrestler to fight the toughest in the world-King Kong, Ray Golden, Lou Thesz and Ray Apollon-and emerge as the invincible world champion.
But this is also the story about a young Sikh boy called Deedara, who was pulled out of school to work in his family’s farm, who was coerced into a teenage marriage; who did petty jobs in Singapore; and finally strode like a lion into wrestling arenas across the world.
As one of the first stars of Hindi stunt films, Dara Singh mesmerized his audiences with his rugged looks. And in 1986, while essaying the role of Hanuman in the iconic TV series Ramayan, he was deified by the entire nation, Deedara aka Dara Singh! Is a fascinating account of an extraordinary man, who started his life in the most ordinary way, but became an icon for an entire generation.
Seema Sonik Alimchand was born and raised in Mumbai. Her first job was that of a flight attendant, which took her to different parts of the world. Later on in life, she decided to pursue her passion, and worked independently with the media, writing and producing content for TV, theatre and radio.
Seema is the daughter of the renowned music composer, Sonik of the music duo, sonic-Omi, and is naturally drawn to the world of cinema. She is also the writer, presenter and producer of 100 years of Hindi Film Music, a 13 CD album, which was released by HMV Saregama in 1014. A year later, in 2015, she wrote a biography of superstar, Rajinikanth, title The Warrior Within.
Seema Sonik Alimchand is presently working on a number of books, from an adventure series to a romantic thriller.
One chilly morning in December 2014, as I stood watching the mountaneous Sikh soldiers at the Wagah border, the image of the great Dara Singh came in my mind.
The very next day, I put pen to paper and miraculously, this book unfolded at an amazing speed. It was as if some mysterious powers were propelling my writing and things just fell into place.
I visited Dara Singh’s birthplace and his other haunts, including Chandigarh, where fortune favoured me yet again. My sister and I were welcomed with great warmth into the gorgeous home of Amrik Singh Randhawa, Dara Singh’s son.
Back in Mumbai, I continued writing. In February 2015,. I met and interviewed Dara Singh’s wife, Surjit and a month later, in March 2015, Virnder (Vindhu) Singh Randhawa spoke to me. Thus began a series of meetings and interviews and once again, the pieces just began to fit so perfectly-I had access to Ratan Aulakh, Dara Singh’s brother-in-law, his eldest daughter ,Kamal Randhawa, as well as Dara Singh’s eldest son from his first marriage, Parduman Singh Randhawa. The rest and amongst them, Deepa Mann, Dara and Surjit’s youngest daughter, as well as several famous personalities from the Mumbai film industry opened their homes and hearts to me.
This book is the rest of intense research, sit-down interviews, old letters, archival material, newspaper articles, and Dara Singh’s autobiography (originally published in Punjabi) titled, Meri Atmakatha. Information and inspired me on provide a cinematic sense of place, dialogue and culture to the book. As a writer, I had all the raw material and tools to create a fantastic portrait, and that’s what I have attempted in Deedara aka Dara Singh!
The drums burst forth, BOOM! clearing the energies off the misty Guwahati streets. A band of drummers walked through, beating a frenzied rhythm, drawing the evening crowds to attention.
Suno, suno, suno! For the first time in Guwahati! A wrestling tournament with ferocious fighters: The Killers! International Stars- International Stars-King Kong, Mighty Mongol, Killer Zapata, the Bomber Pat Roche, George G Randhawa, Ajit Singh, and ----- the Lion of India, Dara Singh, the great --to fight the bloodiest battle ever…!’ the promoters sitting atop cycle-rickshaws were broadcasting through handheld megaphones, even as handbills rained down on curious onlookers.
The year was 1962-television was still a distant dream in India and announcements such as these, worked as the best advertising tools. Soon after, tickets at the local Nehru Stadium began selling from 4:00 pm onwards and by 5.30 pm were completely sold out. Men, women and even children turned up to watch the matches.
The first set of fights commenced that evening at 7.30. at 8.30, the megaphone crackled yet again and the announcement that the 1,00,000- strong crowd was waiting for, was finally made-‘Ladies and Gentlemen, And now---- get ready for---- the villain James Bond, the Baaladd man, Pat Roche! Ladies and Gentlemen! Pat Roche, the Bomber!!!’
The crowds screamed and some booed, as the red-bearded Roche, weighing 20 stone, 6 feet 4 inches tall, with a 51-inch chest, walked down the aisle throwing punches and raising his arms menacingly. An evi grin spread across his face as he jumped over the ropes into the ring, and the announcer concluded, ‘Pat Roche will take on----the hero of heroes, Rustam-E_Hind, the Lion of Punjab, Dara Singh!’
An uproarious cheer rent the air as Dara Singh Randhawa appeared. Fans leaned over the edges of barricades, shouting his name and waving flags, as Dara with an unassuming smile on his face, walked the 100 yards through the crowd, his mind focused on the fight ahead. Dara’s arms were raised over his head and his starched pugdi (turban) made the champion wrestler-turned film star appear even more handsome and taller than his 6 feet and 2 inches.
He leapt over the ropes of the ring, and folded his hands in a greeting, ‘Sahibaan, Namaskar! I am very happy to see all of you here today. Thank you’.
This was his patent greeting, through all his matches.
The gong was sounded. Dara, the face of the match rushed at his opponent. Pat Roche, the Heel. The nine-minute bout consisted of three rounds. Pat had had tow falls already. He’s been fighting foul and using abusinve language throughout, notwithstanding the referee’s repeated warnings. By the time, the whistle blew, signalling round three and enraged Pat pushed dara and locked his arm around his neck to choke him, fouling once again. Dara decided to teach him a lesson. He blasted his elbow into Pat’s lower body and toppled him over. Pat was flat out, his back exposed to the mat. The frenzied audience wanted more blood and screamed, "Maaro! Kill him! Dara, kill him!"
The count began, ‘One---Two---‘ The crowd screamed along with the refereee. Squirming in pain, Pat struck out his fist in an obscene gesture at the audience, even as he glared cheekily at Dara. Not one to give up. Dara applied more pressure, twisting his arm further.’Three! screamed the referee, and the audience in unison. The match ended with fans jumping out of their seats, many running towards the ring hooting, shouting, cheering and booing, all at the same time. Amidst this cacophonic madness, the referee stood centre stage, flanked by the two beefy opponents.
‘Dara Singh!’ he announced and raised Dara’s hand, proclaiming him the winner. The wrestlers shook hands: Dara’s eyes were full of pride and humility, while Pat’s had a naughty glint. From the ringside came an angry shout, ‘Pat Roche murdabad!’ The gigantic wrestler scanned the audience for the source of the insult and showed him the finger, yelling out an obscenity before turning away. Suddenly, the man leapt over the barricades and stabbed Pat in the back. All hell broke loose. Pat was rushed to hospital.. Fortunately, the wound was not too deep, but the lesson, Pat learnt that day was unforgettable-in India, there was only one wrestling King and his name was Dara Singh.
**Book's Contents and Sample Pages**
North Indian Music (290)
Original Texts (60)
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