The love story of Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu is one that everyone dreams to have. They have set an example for all of us to follow. The couple had been married for 54 years, before the legendary actor of Indian cinema passed away on Wednesday, July 7.
Despite the age gap of 22 years, their love story is not less than a Bollywood film. They both were together through thick and thin and survived the hardships of life together.
Needless to say that Saira Banu was all by Dilip Kumar's side till his last days. Banu refers to Kumar as her 'Kohinoor'.
So let's take a stroll down memory lane and revisit how their romance began.
Saira Banu was just 12 years old when she fell in love with Dilip Kumar. By that time, Kumar was 34 years old and was already a famous star of Indian Cinema. In the premiere of Mughal-e-Azam in 1960, Saira was 16 years old and was waiting to see him in the premiere. But Kumar did not come to the premiere. This left this teenage girl upset.
In 1961, Banu debuted with her first movie "Junglee" in 1961. Even after being linked to many other actors after she started acting, her heart and eyes were always stuck on Kumar. In one of her old interviews, she said, “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.”
Soon that much-awaited time for working with Kumar arrived for Banu in the film. But he said no to many films with her because he thought she is too younger than him but also thought her as a very charming girl.
In “Dilip Kumar: The Substance and The Shadow,” his autobiography, he has written, “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.”
The time arrived when these two love birds decided to marry each other, forgetting the age gap of 22 years. On October 11, 1966, they tied knot after Kumar proposed Banu. But their union remained in limelight for a long time due to their age difference.
It was Banu's mother, Naseem Banu, who played the role of cupid in their love story.
Banu continued working for 10 years after marriage i.e. till 1976 and later put a stop to her acting career and was happy being a homemaker. In 1972, she faced a miscarriage and could not conceive after that. Kumar supported her and stuck by her side in all her decisions.
Both of them have worked together in Gopi (1970), Jwaar Bhata (1973), Sagina (1974), Bairaag (1976), and Duniya (1984).
For the past few months, Kumar was hospitalized again and again. Banu was seen taking care of him as a perfect life partner.
Once Banu said about Kumar, “For me, it was always Saab, no one else. I was his fan from the time I can remember. While still a teenager, I wanted to be his wife. I'm very headstrong and once I made up my mind, there was no stopping me. I knew many beautiful women wanted to marry Saab, but he chose me. It was my dream come true and that's why my marriage has been like a perfect dream.”
After many years of their married life, in 2014, Banu said, “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."
Their love story has passed the test of life and proved that for love, only heart and devotion are needed. The age gap does not matter.