Saira Banu On Wonderful Times Spent With Dilip Kumar: I Want To Relish Them All

Saira Banu On Wonderful Times Spent With Dilip Kumar: I Want To Relish Them All

The actress shared a heartfelt note on her anniversary with the legendary thespian

PTIUpdated: Wednesday, October 11, 2023, 07:12 PM IST
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She spent the majority of her life with Dilip Kumar, screen icon for cinephiles but 'Yousuf saheb' for her. On their 57th wedding anniversary today, veteran actor Saira Banu says she wants to "relish" the memories they made.

Saira Banu is very active on Instagram through her verified account, dedicated to the "unseen and unheard anecdotes" from her and Kumar's life.

"It's been two years since Yousuf sahab has not been in my life. I've spent 56 years with him, so I don't want to do anything at all, except meditate, and think of all the wonderful times that we spent together. I want to relish all that," the 79-year-old actor, who married Kumar months after her 22nd birthday, told PTI in an interview.

Kumar, whose real name was Mohammad Yousuf Khan, passed away on July 7, 2021 at the age of 98 at a Mumbai hospital after prolonged illness.

Regarded one of the finest actors of Indian cinema, the popular actor's film credits ranged from the mammoth period drama "Mughal-E-Azam", father-son story set in the world of crime "Shakti" to "Ram Aur Shyam", the tale of twin brothers with diametrically opposite personalities.

Through her Instagram page, which has over 30,000 followers, the actor said she wants to keep her husband alive in public memory.

"I want all of you to know him, not just as an actor but as a human being. I want people to know the real him. It has been two years (that he has passed away), I felt I must talk about him, all that he did, all that people don't really know," she added.

Saira Banu has often spoken about how she fell head over heels for the actor after watching his 1952 film "Aan" and went on to marry the love of her life. He was 44 at the time.

"I went crazy about him when I was young. I must have been 12 or 13-year-old. When I saw him, I was amazed and 'bahut chahne lagi unhe'. I wouldn't call it a teenage crush, it was an obsession.

"I remember meeting him at a function when I had come home (India), he was wearing simple clothes and I was just looking at him. I was like, 'If ever I want to marry anybody, then it is this man'," she recalled.

Their "whirlwind romance" began at a housewarming celebration that was scheduled for Saira Banu's birthday, August 23, 1966. Kumar had travelled to Mumbai from Madras, where he was filming "Ram Aur Shyam", to attend the party.

"It was a lovely surprise to see him just when I was about to cut the cake. He came up to me and said 'You have grown up into a beautiful girl'. After that, it was a whirlwind romance for about seven-nine days. He would fly between Mumbai and Madras. We would have dinner together with our family and go on drives," she said.

Within weeks, Kumar popped the question.

"He said 'I am constantly flying between Mumbai and Madras for days now, will you consider marrying me?' The same day he sought my hand from my grandmother, when he came for dinner. This was in early September.

"We had a quick engagement ceremony in October and got married the same month. It was instant love, 'main toh saalon se chaah rahi thi', and I still love him. Ours is a great love story," she added.

According to Saira Banu, she was the more romantic of the two.

"He would be the subdued one, with class, and I would be the one clamouring all over him. He was subtle in his ways. For years, he never held my hand in public. He was very reticent about demonstrating his love. Later on, he would hold my hand." Prominent cinema stars of the time Raj Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor danced their hearts out at Kumar's wedding procession where the groom was sitting on a horse.

"There were a multitude of people, who broke the gate and came inside to watch the wedding." Every year, Saira Banu said they would celebrate their wedding anniversary in the presence of family and close friends at their house in suburban Bandra here.

"We would play dumb charades. Then, we had musicians playing music, sometimes we would have (music composer duo) Kalyanji-Anandji coming home. We used to have poetry sessions," she said.

This year, the actor will pay a visit to Kumar at his burial site.

"I would meditate, and send food out to poor people. Then we have close family and friends coming over home," she added.

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