Dilip Kumar And Saira Banu, Made In Heaven: Their Love Story



Dilip Kumar And Saira Banu, Made In Heaven: Their Love Story

Dilip Kumar with his wife of over 50 years, Saira Banu.

Legendary actor Dilip Kumar died in Mumbai on Wednesday at the age of 98. He was taken to a hospital last week after complaining of breathlessness. A tweet posted from the actor’s official handle by family friend Faisal Farooqui read: “With a heavy heart and profound grief, I announce the passing away of our beloved Dilip saab a few minutes ago. We are from God and to him we return.” Dilip Kumar is survived by Saira Banu, his wife of over 54 years. As tributes poured in on social media for the veteran actor, people remembered their love story as one that withstood the test of time. 

Dilip Kumar, born Mohammed Yusuf Khan, took on the stage name “Dilip Kumar” when he made his debut in the Hindi film industry in 1944. Saira Banu, on the other hand, was 22 years his junior and a fan of the legendary actor. “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,” she once said in an interview.

It is said that when the premiere of Dilip Kumar’s Mughal-e-Azam took place in Mumbai in 1960, Saira Banu, then 16, went to attend it just to get a glimpse of her favourite actor. However, Dilip Kumar could not make it for the premiere. 

Later, in his memoir titled ‘Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow’, the actor remembered his first meeting with Saira Banu, with whom he had earlier refused to work because of her age.

“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,” read his memoir.

Saira Banu’s mother Naseem Banu, an actress herself, is believed to have played cupid for the two. Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu married on October 11, 1966. At the time of their marriage, Saira Banu was 22, while Dilip Kumar was 44. Unsurprisingly, their marriage raised a lot of eyebrows – but it stood the test of time. 

However, the love story was not without its fair share of ups and downs. In 1981, Dilip Kumar married Asma Rehman. The marriage lasted two years, with the actor later saying it was a decision he had come to regret. “Well, the one episode in my life that I would like to forget and which we, Saira, and I, have pushed into eternal oblivion is a grave mistake I made under pressure of getting involved with a lady named Asma Rehman whom I had met at a cricket match in Hyderabad,” he said, according to Wion News. 

Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu were together for over half a century and only emerged stronger from the storms they faced together. In 2014, Saira had said about Dilip, “I am still head over heels in love with my Kohinoor, Yousuf Sahab, the way I was when I first felt attracted to him as a 12 year-old. Ours has been as good and enduring a marriage as so many marriages that have survived the ups and downs for four decades. No marriage is perfect. How can it be, when as human beings we are not perfect? It is mutual love, respect and adoration that keep a marriage ticking.”

Over the course of his 40-year-long career, Dilip Kumar appeared in some of Indian cinema’s most iconic films like Naya Daur, Mughal-e-Azam, Devdas, and Madhumati. He received the Padma Vibhushan, the Padma Bhushan and the Dada Saheb Phalke award. He also received Pakistan’s highest civilian honour, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz.

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