By Pratishtha Ghosh Last Updated:
One of the most renowned actresses of the Indian film industry, the epitome of beauty, Saira Banu embarked on her acting journey at the mere age of 16. Her debut film was Junglee, opposite the ever-energetic actor, Shammi Kapoor. After making her debut in Bollywood, the actress garnered a lot of accolades from different spheres by proving her mettle in acting. Not only that, she had also got nominated for a number of awards after her spectacular performance in her debut film, Junglee.
Saira Banu was also the third-highest, and fourth-highest paid actress in Bollywood from 1963 to 1969 and 1971 to 1976 respectively. There is no doubt in the fact that Saira Banu's beauty is incomparable, and so is her acting skill. Besides her career in acting, the actress is well-known because of her love story with the legendary actor, Dilip Kumar. From her career to her personal life, let's dig into some unknown facts of her life that are not known by many people.
Saira Banu had completed her education in London. In an interview with The Hindu, Saira Banu once revealed that she used to study at an elite school in London and had shared her experience of her stay over there. She had told the publication:
“I was studying in Queen's House, an elite school in London. My mother Naseem Bano who was called the first ‘Pari Chehra' or beauty queen of the film industry, had taken me to London after she saw me taking fancy to her ghaghra, lipstick and dance to the tunes of her film songs."
Iconic actress, Saira Banu's maternal grandmother, Shamshad Begum was a trained classical singer. In fact, Saira was very close to her grandmother and had taken her singing lessons from her and was keen on following in her footsteps.
Saira Banu had once opened up on a hilarious incident from her childhood. Until 12 years of age, she used to think that she is a boy and used to love dressing up like boys. In fact, she had a lot of male friends and used to love hanging out with them. She even used to take part in games with them.
Such was the charisma of the legendary actor, late Dilip Kumar that anyone would fall in love with him instantly. While there were millions of girls, who used to die for him, it was Saira Banu, whose love was reciprocated by the actor. The former actress had herself revealed in a tabloid interview that she was in love with the actor since the age of 12, when she had watched his film, Aan. She had 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."
In 1960, during the premiere of Mughal-e-Azam, a 16-year-old Saira was excited to meet her crush, Dilip Kumar for the first time. However, she was heartbroken when the actor did not turn up at the event. When, later on, Saira had finally gotten the first glimpse of the superstar in person, Dilip Kumar had complimented her on her beauty and that had given her wings. Remembering their 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."
When Saira Banu had returned back to India after completing her education in London, she had got engaged in learning Urdu as Dilip Kumar spoke very good Urdu. Her mother would usually take her to the Mehboob Studios. Many producers met her and showed interest in casting her for the role of heroine. However, despite being focused on her career, Saira Banu was keen on going to any extent for the love of her life. And that had made her stand out from millions of Dilip sahab's fans.
Saira Banu had once shared her regrets of not working with the veteran actor, Rajesh Khanna. In 2012, she had told a portal:
"I used to be presupposed to work with him in Choti Bahu (1971), however, I couldn't as a result of I used to be in poor health. I shot with him for two days and located that he was very charming, humble and a shy individual."
Reportedly, Saira Banu had a crush on Rajendra Kumar while working with him in the 1964 film, Ayee Milan Ki Bela. The veteran actor, Rajendra Kumar and Saira Banu had worked in three films together and that had led to love blooming between them. Nonetheless, Saira Banu’s mother, Naseem Banu was not happy with this relationship and did not find it to be fruitful in the long term. However, her mother found the situation going out of her hand and asked Dilip Kumar to help her out of the situation.
The way Saira Banu used to carry herself, had made it pretty clear that she adored carrying beautiful sarees and basic items of jewellery throughout her young age. Reportedly, these sarees and jewelleries had been designed by her mom, Naseem Banu. Saira Banu's fashion game had turned a rage in those days and she was regarded as a style trendsetter of her period. Her mother, too, was a big name in Bollywood during the thirties and forties.
Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu's decades-long married life had come to a standstill in 1972 when she suffered a miscarriage during her eight month of pregnancy. Due to high pressure, their child was strangulated by the umbilical cord and the doctors could not save their baby. In fact, doctors had told her that she will not be able to conceive a child after her miscarriage. In an interview with the Hindustan Times, Saira Banu had retorted on being asked if she regrets not having a child. She had said:
"Our marriage is the most important thing in my life. I don’t miss having a child because Saab is like a child at heart."
Dilip Kumar had once left Saira Banu for an ex-girlfriend, who had taken sleeping pills on his engagement day with Saira Banu. In an interview with The Times Of India, Saira Banu had shared the details of that day. The veteran actress had said:
"The day we got engaged, one girl- not from the industry- who was supposedly his girlfriend and had been almost up to the altar with him, took sleeping pills. Dilip saab had to rush to her and make her understand that he's in love with me. He pacified her and came back to the engagement ceremony. I got sort of used to such things. There were girls who would stand in front of his car and wish that the car runs over them."
Well, Saira Banu's life has been one hell of a roller coaster ride. Though the actress had to go through a lot in her marital life, she did stick by Dilip Kumar till the last days of his life. Her dedication towards her husband restores our faith in true love.
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