Mohan Abhane recalls the time he spent with Indian cinemas strong man
Bharat ki aan,baan aur shaan,Bharat ka bhim,Bharat ka balram. Rustamo ka rustom,rustom-e-zaman… I have heard this for Dara Singh over and over again, said Mohan Abhane,a loyal fan of Indian cinemas strong man. Abhane,a retired factory manager,maintains a library of over a 120 films of the veteran actor.
He has also watched his favourite Dara Singh starrer,Aya Toofan (1965),over 50 times in theatres across the city. Abhane has not missed even a sing of Singhs wrestling bouts in Pune. I as fascinated with his strong body and image since the time I first saw him on screen. I was so happy when he came to Pune for a wrestling bout after winning the world championship, says Abhane. He was lucky to meet his idol in person at that event. I followed him to his dressing room. There was heavy security but I told them that I was a big fan and only want to shake hands with him. They let me go, he added.
Abhane was awestruck by Singhs humility when he invited Abhane to his residence in Mumbai. I have been to Dara Singhs home five times. The first time I visited him at his residence,he remembered me as the fan from the stadium and asked me if would have tea or lassi. He was delighted when I told him that I dont have tea. We sat down for a chat over large Patiala lassis, recalled the 65-year-old.
Abhane visited Singh again in 1973 to invite him for his wedding. Sir extended a warm welcome. He was happy and gave me a gift of Rs 5,000, he said. There is a strong connection between the admired and the admirer,who never disappointed each other. Abhane again visited Singh in 1980 to seek solace after his mother passed away. This time,too,Dara Singh welcomed Abhane with open arms and helped him overcome depression.
His last meeting with his role model was in 2006,when Singh came to Salisbary Park to judge a brick breaking competition.
Abhanes wife,children and grand children also got a chance to meet the legendary figure. I was heart broken when I heard the news that Dara Singh was hospitalised. I wanted to visit him in Mumbai,but my health did not permit me to do so on my own, said Abhane. I pray for the well being of his family. An era has come to an end,I cannot express the loss I feel, he added.