What Was Rustom-i-Zamaan (World Champion) Dara Singh’s Diet ?
By – ALI PETER JOHN
When I was seven, a game called (Dara Singh – King Kong) was a game in which we boys took part in with great enthusiasm. It was all about power and strength. One boy played Dara Singh and the other played King Kong. We had only heard about wrestling legends.
By the time I was seven, I realised that there was a real Dara Singh and a real King Kong and many other wrestlers from India and abroad who fought wrestling matches at what was the hen called the Vallabhbhai Patel stadium in Worli. We made it a point to save that one rupee which could buy us a ticket in the faraway stands from where we could only see the costumes worn by the wrestlers. Dara Singh always wore pink and the commentator made it a point to say,” Aapke batein aur Jo laal kapde mein hai, woh Dara Singh hai” and we were not bothered about who the other wrestlers were . For some reasons, even at that age we knew that Dara Singh had to win and he never let us down,but we still kept almost walking to the stadium to watch Dara Singh throw out and lift other big wrestlers over his head and fling them out of the ring, sometimes even two of them together. Dara Singh was the greatest legend for us…
Little did i know that I would one day be very close to this extraordinary legend who was very strong but a very mild and simple person. I travelled with him to different places where he was honoured and entire towns and villages came out to see whether Dara Singh was for real.
It was during the shooting of a film called “Rustom” in which he not only played the title role, but also produced and directed the film. The shooting was taking place at the Matheran hill station, not very far from Bombay. I was invited to the shooting by Dara Singh himself.
It was lunch time and hundreds and thousands of students surrounded him on all sides, inquisitive to know what he really ate for lunch. His man placed a plate because in which there were just three phulkas, some sabzi, a bowl of daal and a glass of milk. The children couldn’t believe their eyes. They had heard stories about how Dara Singh had six full chicken cooked in different ways, more than eighty eggs and a bucket full of milk only for breakfast. He found it difficult to explain to the children that he was like any other ordinary man but he still refused to believe him..
This subject of his diet stayed with me till i was alone with him in the first class compartment of a train going to Sangli, where he was to honour the champion wrestler of Maharashtra, Maruti Rao Mane. I used to drink every night those days and trembled when it was 8:30 P.M and we were still to have our dinner. I was very sure that I was doomed because I believed that alcohol and Dara Singh would never go together but before I could finish thinking, Dara Singh who was just in a simple white pyjama and kurta said, “Ali,ek ho jaaye ?” and he opened a full bottle of black label whisky and I could see him having before my eyes. I could only have three large drinks out of respect for the mighty man,but something was better than nothing. Those three pegs were enough to see me through a peaceful night . The next morning the whole of Sangli was in the streets and no one was at home . They all wanted to see to believe that there was a Dara Singh in real life.
I was waiting for my chance to ask him about his diet and my time came. I asked him what he ate and whether the rumours of what he ate was true ? He laughed and in half Hindi and half Punjabi , he said , log toh kuch bhee Kahaani Bana dete hain and he then told me about his diet. He said, he had the white side of eggs of more than a hundred chicken, the liver and the heart of more than 30 chickens and some very pure ghee from punjab, mashed into some kind of paste which he called Yachani . And ate the paste for breakfast and topped it with a huge jar of milk. That was the only standard diet which he followed during his entire life as a wrestler. Lunch and dinner was the usual food prepared at home, but milk had to be a constant item in any of his meals.
He followed a very strict diet till he was 83. One night he complaint of pain all over his body and for the first time he was rushed to the Kokila Ben hospital where after an hour of investigation, the young and inexperienced doctor called his son, Bindu and his brother in law, Ratan Aulukh and asked them to take him home as well there were no chances of his survival. All the organs in his body had failed. He laughed all the way home and even when his family was screaming and crying, he sent for his brother in law and asked him to bring a bottle of vodka with him. The iron man who had never had more than two drinks polished off the entire bottle and kept talking to his brother in law and three in the night, he was dead. Dara Singh dead ? There was still some people who believed that Dara Singh was a myth who couldn’t believe that the father of the ‘Mard ( he played Amitabh’s father in Manmohan Desai’s Mard) and when I asked Desai why he had cast Dara Singh,he said, Mard ka baap Mard nahin hoga, toh kaun hoga ? “
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