Some love stories are immortal, and one such love story was of Dilip Kumar and his begum, Saira Banu. Epitome of pure love and grace, they had made us believe in the notion of companionship. With more than 5 decades of togetherness, the duo had proved that love is the only factor that matters in a relationship. Saira was more than a wife to Dilip saab, as she was his true friend, an honest companion and his pillar of strength.
Dilip saab was the dream man of every woman in the ‘60s. His charming personality had captivated the hearts of millions. And just among his million fans was Saira Banu, who was head-over-heels in love with him from the age of 12. Saira Banu was 22, when she had gotten married to a 44-year-old Dilip Kumar. With an age gap of 22 years, the duo had gotten married on October 11, 1966 and had proved to the world that age is just a number.
In his memoir titled, Dilip Kumar: The Substance and the Shadow, Dilip Kumar had recalled meeting Saira Banu at her birthday party and being smitten by her beauty. Reminiscing the same, he had penned, “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.”
He had also recalled how he had fallen head-over-heels in love with her and time had stood still. Realising how destiny had played its part to make her his real-life partner, Dilip saab had continued, “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. For once, she let go of her annoyance with me and looked straight into my eyes and it did not take more than an instant for me to realize that she was the one destiny had been knowingly reserving as my real-life partner while I was refusing to pair with her on screen!"
In an interview with The Times Of India, Saira Banu had recalled how she had fallen in love with Dilip Kumar when she was just 12. Revealing that it was an ‘instant’ feeling, Saira had stated, “He was wearing a plain white shirt, white trousers and white chappals. And my God! He had such lovely free-flowing hair, just in sync with his song 'Ude Zulfen Jab Jab Teri' from ‘Naya Daur’. He looked so polished and sophisticated and so different from everyone around. It was a party by Mehboob Khan (director of 'Mother India') and I met him. I fell in love with him almost instantly; I was just 12 then.”
She had also revealed how Dilip saab proposed her and had said, “We went to Cuffe Parade. We got down from the car and started talking. Soon, he popped up the question: 'Will you marry me?' (laughs). Just imagine! I replied rather sarcastically, 'How many girls have you told this to?' (laughs). He started laughing and said, 'I understand. I haven't worked with you and you are angry with me. Main kya karoon, mujhe hamesha lagta tha that you are too young'. I told him that things like marriage should be spoken to elders. He said that we should go right back and talk to them.”
The veteran actor, Dilip Kumar breathed his last on July 7, 2021, at Hinduja Hospital. The 98-year-old actor had bid adieu to the world after prolonged health issues. His family friend, Faisal Farooqui confirmed the news through a tweet on the actor's Twitter handle. The tweet can be read as:
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. – Faisal Farooqui.
Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu’s love and devotion for one another had surpassed everything. Despite their age gap, they have been each other’s strength. However, Dilip Kumar’s death marked an end of an era.