Dara Singh was the original muscle man of the Indian film industry. With a physique that allowed him to tower over most of his peers, a booming voice and a broad smile, the wrestler turned actor was perhaps always going to have a natural advantage in the film indsutry. But as he discovered, just a great physique wasn’t enough and he had to work on his dialogue delivery and other acting skills.
Here’s an interview with Singh done in Canada in the 1970s where he describes his foray into Bollywood:
How did you get a chance to work in films?
There used to be wrestling matches in Mumbai. Their a producer was looking for an actor who looks like a pehlwan. Indian films used to be of romantic genre and the producer wanted to make a ‘Hercules’ type of film. When he approached me for the role I said that I don’t know how to act.
But he said not to worry the director will take care of that. I accepted the role and the film was a huge success. The film was called King Kong and was released in 1962. After this film I got many offers for films. Then I decided to concentrate on acting, dialogue delivery etc.
Did you face problems in speaking in Hindi?
People who came from cities in Punjab have no difficulty in speaking in Hindi. But for me, as I came from the villages, my pronunciation of Hindi was bad. So after entering the film line I learned Hindi and Urdu.
What type of role do you like to portray?
I like to play all kinds of role. Especially action roles. When I joined the industry, actors used duplicates for action scenes, but I used to do all my action scenes by myself.