Singh was King
The Vallabhbhai Patel experience
'King Kong, Dara Singh - ‘Do paise ka khara sing’- was a ditty that we learnt very early in school, much before knowing who King Kong was (a wrestler, not an oversized ape) . Dara Singh, however, was known to everybody.
World champion wrestler, we were told, and this made us kids so proud. His name had become a metaphor for something fauladi! His early B or even C grades films were not accessible to us kids from ‘good, middle-class’' families. But what joy was it to see him and Mehmood together, my two favourites, in Kunwara Baap. Mehmood had undertaken the task of wrestling Dara Singh, in order to earn prize money, which he badly needed to get his polio-afflicted son treated. Naturally, he gets thrashed by Dara. But in a gentle manner. Dara Singh never appeared menacing to anyone, his friendly demeanour always overshadowed his physical strength.
I have great memories of eagerly awaiting announcements of the Sunday wrestling matches on posters that would be put up a few days before. They were pure pulp -- lurid in phosphorescent colours with startling photographs and dramatic announcements -- “I will avenge my brother Randhawa’s humiliation! I will unmask the Masked Marauder!” and other such promises of gratifying mayhem.
The Chandanwadi crematorium wall, had huge painted posters of the dramatis personae, all looking terrifying, save Dara and his brother, Randhawa. The wrestlers announced havoc and pain at the Vallabhbhai Patel stadium -- an offer that was too much to pass up on. My experience with one such evening, done some time ago, is presented here. The title is inadvertently significant -- now that the much-loved Dara Singh has kicked the bucket.
R.I.P big guy, you made us proud!