Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar. (Image via Twitter @TheDilipKumar)
Legendary actor Dilip Kumar died on July 7 after a prolonged illness and left behind his beautiful love story with his wife Saira Banu. The 98-year-old Mughal-e-Azam actor, who was ill for a long time, had been in and out of hospitals in the last one month. All this time, Saira Banu stood like a rock beside her husband.
The actor, who ruled the hearts of millions of film-goers, will also be remembered for his real-life love story with Banu that overcame an age difference of 22 years and other controversies.
At the sad demise of Dilip Kumar today, let’s revisit their beautiful bond
How Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu met
The love story of Dilip Kumar, born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan, and Saira Banu is no less than a fairytale. Although the two Bollywood actors married in 1966 when the gorgeous Saira was only 22 and Dilip was 44, their love story had begun a decade ago. Young Saira had fallen for Dilip Kumar at the age of just 12 years.
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She confessed her feelings in a tabloid interview once and said, “I was not just another girl smitten by Dilip Kumar. For me, it was no castle in the air because I had given my dream the strong foundation of faith- faith in myself and faith in God.”
After four years, when the first premiere of Dilip Kumar's super hit tragic romance, Mughal-e-Azam had taken place at Mumbai's famous Maratha Mandir in 1960, the 16-year-old fangirl Saira Banu went for the show, hoping to get a glimpse of her favourite hero in person. But, to her disappointment, Dilip Kumar could not make it to the premiere.
Bollywood stars Kumar and Banu arrive for the premier of a retouched version of an old classic film "Mughal-e-Azam" in Mumbai on November 10, 2004. Mughal-e-Azam, one of Bollywood's greatest classics, returned to the big screen in 2004 after 44 years but this time in colour. (File image: Reuters)
Later on, she finally got the first glimpse of the superstar in person. She remembered the meet crystal clear and said that she knew somewhere that she will marry him someday.
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Remembering that first encounter, Saira had said in an interview: "When he smiled at me and remarked that I was a pretty girl, I could feel my whole being taking wing and flying rapturously. I knew somewhere deep within me that I was going to be his wife."
Late actor Dilip Kumar also wrote about the moment when he was taken aback by Saira Banu's beauty in his memoir, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow. "When I alighted from my car and entered the beautiful garden that leads to the house, I can still recall my eyes falling on Saira standing in the foyer of her new house looking breathtakingly beautiful in a brocade sari. I was taken aback because she was no longer the young girl I consciously avoided working with because I thought she would look too young to be my heroine. She had indeed grown to full womanhood and was in reality more beautiful than I thought she was. I simply stepped forward and shook her hand and for us time stood still," Bollywood Shaadis mention in its article.
Love story, marriage and controversy
Saira Banu turned into a famous actress and just like Bollywood celebrities her life too was surrounded by a number of controversies and link-ups. Her flawless beauty, grace and charm and grace won her many offers with leading actors of the time, but it was the well-known star of the 70s, Rajendra Kumar, who stole her heart. But due to his marital status, their relationship was in controversy from the very beginning.
However, it was brought to an end when Naseem Banu, Saira Banu's mother and former actress of the 60s, intervened. It was her who played the role of the Cupid for Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, and made both of them realise that they were made for each other.
In his memoir, Dilip Kumar also recalled how he proposed to her, “Saira, you are not the kind of girl I want to drive around with, or be seen around with… I would like to marry you… Will you be my wife?” he asked, read another article.
“…And how many girls have you said this to?” was Saira’s impish retort before giving her nod, it said.
After the approval of her family, both of them tied the knot on October 11, 1966. At that time, Saira was 22 and Dilip was 44.
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It is often seen that celebrities’ marriages are surrounded by controversies. There was one controversy with Dilip and Saira’s marriage as well.
Sixteen years after he tied the knot with Saira, Dilip Kumar married Asma Rehman, a Pakistani lady, in 1981. However, his second marriage ended in 1983. He then came back to Saira and their reunion marked new beginnings for the couple.
Love remained strong through thick and thin
In all the years of togetherness, the couple overcame all the criticisms, including having 22 years of age gap during their marriage, and always had each other's back since 1966.
The thespian’s Twitter profile was indeed an acknowledgment of thier love and respect for each other and their marriage.
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They remain with each other through thick and thin. On July 5, when a media house posted a picture of Saira, saying she visited him in the hospital, Dilip Kumar's close family friend and aide Faisal Farooqui said that she had been in the hospital round the clock.
He further said that Saira Banu has loved the late icon till the time she has known herself, reported news agency IANS.