The time when KING KONG almost hit him

Dara Singh

Dara Singh  

Many have memories of Dara Singh, and this one comes from a movie veteran. Dara Singh and King Kong (Fowler) had many wrestling bouts in the fifties and this incident was for the movie, Engal Selvi, in 1958.

It was produced by veteran producer, T.E.Vasudevan, who has just turned 95 (Sunday was his birthday). “It was to attract crowds that we hit upon this wrestling match in the film. While shooting, I saw blood ooze out from King Kong’s mouth. I was concerned and shouted ‘cut, cut, cut’ but King Kong almost hit me, as he wanted the blood to be seen! It was Dara Singh who pulled his hand away, saying, ‘he is the producer of the film’,” says Vasudevan, reminiscing about Dara Singh. He paid Dara Singh Rs.15, 000 for that scene, a lot of money in those days.

Engal Selvi, (Tamil) which had Anjali Devi and Nageswara Rao along with Balaji (Mohanlal’s father-in-law) and Baby Uma, was directed by Yoganand. It had Murosoli Maran’s dialogues and Kannadasan’s lyrics, with K.V. Mahadevan’s music. “Sadly, there is no print of that movie anywhere,” says Vasudevan, adding that of the 50-odd movies he produced, nearly half the number does not exist in any form, lost.

“Once, Vauhini Studios called me and said I must remove the reels of film as soon as possible or it will cause a fire (the silver nitrate in negatives was a fire hazard). I took it and had to burn it myself in my backyard, he says.

“But even today, I live with the movies I made, I am proud to say. Whoever knew then that TV channels would come!” he laughs. The lost movies include Priyamvada, Kaduvaye Pidicha Kiduva, Sexilla Stuntilla, Pinchu Hrudayam, and Satyabhama, which had Prem Nazir playing Lord Krishna.

While on remuneration, Anjali Devi was paid Rs. 80,000 for the movie Engal Selvi whereas Nageswara Rao’s pay was just Rs.15,000. “When Lalitha (of the Travancore sisters was given Rs.60,000, Thikkurissi, the hero got about Rs. 15,000,” Vasudevan remembers. “The hero got prominence with the entry of Sivaji Ganesan. Area wise selling of rights also was another cause for the rise in rates of heros’ remuneration with the competition between Sivaji and MGR films,” he says, at his house in Panampilly Nagar, with daughter Mani and his wife sitting by his side, a perfectly contented 95 years sitting pretty on him.

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Printable version | Aug 13, 2020 4:27:14 AM |

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