MUMBAI (Reuters) - Actor Dara Singh endeared himself to audiences playing the authoritarian grandfather in “Jab We Met”, which was to be his last appearance in a Bollywood film.
Film-maker Imtiaz Ali, who directed the 2007 hit, spoke to Reuters about working with the wrestler-turned-actor, who died in Mumbai on Thursday.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
“What I remember most about Dara Singh was how solid he was, impenetrable like a mountain. In ‘Jab We Met’, he epitomised Indian values which Kareena (Kapoor) would never have been able to go against. That is why I cast him. He was the perfect gentleman. I remember he had a dialogue where he had to taunt Kareena about the kind of clothes she wears. He had to say ‘Mumbai mein tum nangi ghoomti hogi” (You must be roaming around naked in Mumbai). He was so uncomfortable saying it. He told me he wouldn’t be able to say the word ‘nangi’ (naked). I had to do a lot of convincing to finally get him to agree.
”He wasn’t the most accessible of actors, which is why perhaps people did not approach him for more roles. Even for ‘Jab We Met’, I had to take quite a few efforts to reach him. I don’t think he was the type to go looking for work or asking for roles. I remember asking for his son’s number and contacting him, so that I could get in touch with Dara Singh.
“On sets, he was an absolute pleasure to work with. I think a lot of people still remember his dialogue in ‘Jab We Met’ and his speech to Shahid (Kapur) and Kareena. My lasting image of Dara Singh will be him, dressed in all white, sitting on a charpoy, looking like a true Punjabi. Around him, there are hundreds of dancers, for the ‘Nagada’ song. But amid that mela, he is sitting, strong as ever, and smiling.”
As told to Shilpa Jamkhandikar