Bollywood's “first action hero” Dara Singh. - YouTube video grab.

MUMBAI: Bollywood's “first action hero” Dara Singh, an Indian champion wrestler-turned-actor whose film and television career spanned over half a century, died on Thursday aged 83.

The star's health deteriorated a few days ago and he passed away after suffering from a heart attack, his doctor R.K. Agarwal told reporters outside Singh's Mumbai residence, sparking tributes from across the country.

“It was his and his family's wish that he should spend his last moments at home,” Agarwal said.

Born in Punjab in 1928, Singh trained in the Indian “Pehlwani” wrestling style before joining the sport professionally, going on to become commonwealth wrestling champion in 1959 and world wrestling champion in 1968.

He took up acting in the 1950s, carving his niche with tough man roles in Bollywood films such as “King Kong”, “Hercules”, “Samson” and “Tarzan comes to Delhi”.

His popularity peaked in the 1980s when he played the monkey god Hanuman in the popular television series of “Ramayan”, an adaptation of the Hindu epic, and he appeared in more than 140 films.

His last movie appearance was in “Jab We Met” in 2007, playing the role of grandfather to leading Bollywood actress Kareena Kapoor.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the tributes, expressing his sadness at Singh's death and describing him as a “noted film personality and an internationally acclaimed wrestler”.

Veteran Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, writing on Twitter, described Singh as “a great Indian and one of the finest humans. An entire era of his celebrated presence gone!”

Indian industrialist Anand Mahindra recalled how during his school days, any strong guy was a “Dara Singh”. Director and actress Farah Khan paid tribute to “the first ever action hero of our country, rest in peace”.

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Comments (17)

July 13, 2012 5:08 pm
He was a great man, may God bless his soul !
July 12, 2012 5:02 pm
A RustamEzama has passed away.will be remembered in history
Malik A
July 13, 2012 5:29 pm
RIP....Dara Sahib....a thorough gentleman/soul on & off-screen...humbleness came to him naturally ...
July 12, 2012 12:30 pm
An actor, and a gentleman. A great human being.
common man
July 12, 2012 12:08 pm
In childhood, Mothers always quotes to sons , " Darsingh Banna Hai to Khana Khao.." He was so woven in common family's life in each and every house.
t singh
July 12, 2012 6:43 pm
he was a legend , he was a word in common language. we normaly say in hindi or punjabi " tu khud ko bahot dara singh samjhta hai kya"
July 13, 2012 12:40 pm
Soft spoken, strong character and a true Indian. RIP Dara Singh Sahab !
akash meena
July 13, 2012 6:32 pm
u were true legend nobody can fill your place. its end of desi kusti
July 12, 2012 10:54 am
sorry to see him go
Asif Pasha -Noida
July 12, 2012 6:45 am
May your soul rest in Peace !! We Indians are proud of you and you will always remain in our heart and mind !!
July 12, 2012 7:05 am
It is really sad to hear that Dara Singh Ji died. He is a legend. He was a very honest, well respected, soft spoken and a brave person. People like him never die, they always live forever......
July 12, 2012 8:31 am
End of an era. A true indian and a champion. A gem of a person who was born to win every single fight but at last after playing his best inning in this world now will rest in heaven. Salute to Dara Singh ji. Jai shri ram as always said by him while playing the role of Lord Hanuman.
July 12, 2012 9:08 pm
Love you Dara! Long live in our memories.
anwar hashim
July 13, 2012 12:12 pm
may daraji,s soul rest in peace(ameen)
anwar hashim
July 13, 2012 12:04 pm
May Daraji,s sole rest in peace.
July 14, 2012 1:11 am
He was truely embedded in the psyche of Indian children, especially in the sixties, seventies and eighties. Almost like fictional/mythical heros such as Bheem, Phantom, and the Superman. No other person can equal that image, ever.
shahid from Pakistan
July 14, 2012 2:23 am
it seems that God has made him for this profession. Great actor Great man dara singh.
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