Athlete turned actor and politician Praveen Kumar Sobti aka “Bheem” from the 1988 television series died of cardiac arrest on February 7. The 74-year-old actor breathed his last at his Ashok Vihar residence in Mumbai.
As an actor, he appeared in over 50 Hindi films and portrayed "Bheem" in B.R. Chopra's television series Mahabharat, which premiered in 1988. Kumar also played "Saaboo" in Chacha Chaudhary (the television series) for several episodes. In the 2013 film ‘Mahabharat Aur Barbareek’, he repeated his role as Bheem. It was his final performance as an actor.
"He had a chronic chest infection problem. At night, when he started feeling uneasy, we called the doctor at home. He passed away between 10-10.30 PM following a cardiac arrest," a relative of Kumar was quoted saying.
At the age of 20, he joined the newly formed Border Security Force, where his exceptional athletic skills drew the attention of his superiors, and he went on to represent India in several sports events.
Kumar began his career as a discus and hammer thrower, representing India at international competitions such as the Olympics, Asian Games, and Commonwealth Games.
He competed in the hammer and discus throws for India, winning gold medals in the discus event at the Asian Games in 1966 and 1970. At the 1966 Commonwealth Games and the 1974 Asian Games, he earned silver medals. He was awarded the Arjuna Award for his sporting skills.
Kumar’s track and field career came to an end in the late 1970s, and he entered the entertainment industry.
‘Raksha’, a James Bond-style Indian film starring Jeetendra in which Kumar plays a huge henchman Gorilla inspired by 'Jaws of The Spy Who Loved Me ', was Kumar's debut film.
'Zabardast,' 'Singhasan,' 'Khudgarz,' 'Karishma Kudrat Kaa,' 'Yudh,' 'Loha,' 'Mohabbat Ke Dushman,' 'Ilaaka,' and others are among his flicks.
In Tinnu Anand’s blockbuster ‘Shahenshah’, Kumar was the actor who took the first blow of one of superstar Amitabh Bachchan’s most successful dialogues, “Rishte Mein to Hum Tumhare Baap Hote Hain, Naam hai Shahenshah!”
The actor was also seen in the Tamil film ‘Michael Madana Kama Rajan’ playing the part of Bheem and he also did one Telugu movie ‘Kishkinda Kanda’ in which he played a truck driver.
Kumar had revealed signing his first Bollywood film while competing in a tournament in Kashmir in an interview with The Times of India. Ravikant Nagaich directed the film, but he didn't have any lines.
In 2013, the actor entered politics, joining the Aam Aadmi Party. He ran for the Wazirpur constituency in the Delhi Legislative Assembly elections that year, but lost. He then became a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).