Me & Dara were once highest paid B-grade actors-Mumtaz
Dara Singh’s heroine in 16 films, Mumtaz speaks to Bombay Times
As told to Upala KBR (BOMBAY TIMES; July 13, 2012)
I was 15 when I did my first film as a lead actress. The year was 1963 and I played Rajkumari Padma opposite Daraji in Faulad. Till then, I’d been working as a child artiste. After that, we did many films together. It was my films with Daraji that got me noticed, and slowly my career began to gather momentum. All this happened over 50 years ago, so I dont remember much, but I do remember that it was his kindness that got me my first break as a lead actress.
Interestingly, bin those days few actresses wanted to be cast opposite him as he was a wrestler and did B grade films. I was the only actress who agreed to work with him because no big hero of that time wanted to work with me. Slowly, after doing 16 films together, we became the highest paid B grade actor and actress. While he earned almost Rs 4 lakh per film, I made Rs 2.5 lakhs, which was a huge amount back then!
After working with Daraji, my luck changed for the better. I got to work with A-grade stars like Rajendra Kumar, Feroz Khan and Rajesh Khanna. I went into a better league. After I got married to Mayur (Madhvani) and shifted to London, Daraji and I fell out of touch. But when my sister Mallika married his younger brother Randhawa, I would meet him occasionally at her home or he would come over to ours. I had very high regard for him. He was a down-to-earth, simple man with no airs. He also had a very big heart. Anybody who came to him for help was never turned away.
Daraji was also a very disciplined man, just like Sunil Dutt or Dilip Kumar. He would come on the sets bang on time. He was known as an action hero and would do all the stunts himself. That is why both he and Randhawa developed knee problems later.
In those days,we would do as many as 30 films a year,and Daraji would do double sometimes even triple shifts. He was much in demand for his stunts and action sequences, and they would keep him going from 7 am to midnight for months. Doing fight sequences for 2-3 films all in the same day required lots of stamina. It wasn’t easy for him, but still he managed to do it for several years. He was one of the most hardworking heroes I’d ever met. May his soul rest in peace.
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