By Parul Singh Last Updated:
Whether you talk about Ek Duuje Ke Liye or Mughal-e-Azam, the essence of eternal love has always been depicted with all its vibrant charm, tinged with sadness of estrangement in Bollywood films. While Bollywood flicks may be bubbling with the emotions of eternal romance, very few real life celebrity couples can be remembered for lifelong devotion towards their partners. And, one of the most vibrant and beautiful examples of this is the evergreen couple, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu. They have always stayed by each other's side through the thick and thin of the life. And, theirs is a love story that overcame an age difference of 22 years and is still going strong.
It was like a fairytale romance for the ‘king of tragedy’ Dilip Kumar (aka Yusuf Khan) and Bollywood diva Saira Banu. As the former actress herself recalls and confesses, she was all in love with Dilip Kumar right from the age of 12. In a tabloid interview, Saira Banu 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.”
When the first premiere of Dilip Kumar’s super hit tragic romance Mughal-e-Azam took place at Mumbai’s famous Maratha Mandir movie hall in 1960, Saira Banu, then only 16, had gone for the show, hoping to get a glimpse of her favourite hero in person. But she was heartbroken as Dilip Kumar was unable to come to the premiere.
When later on, Saira got the first glimpse of the superstar in person, she remembers that very first moment fondly and as clearly as ever. Remembering that first encounter, she 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.”
Just like any famous celebrity, when the demure yet stunningly beautiful girl became an actress, her life too was surrounded by a number of controversies and link-ups. Her bewitching charm and grace won her many movie offers with leading actors of the time, and she even lost her heart to another well-known star of the 70s, the much-married Rajendra Kumar.
The liaison, which evoked much controversy, was brought to an end when Saira Banu’s mother and former actress of the 60s Naseem Banu intervened. Later, it was this same Naseem Banu, who played the role of the cupid between Dilip and Saira. She got them closer, thanks to which love blossomed between the two. Later when Dilip proposed to Saira with the blessing of their respective families, Saira quickly agreed. They got married in the year 1966, when the gorgeous Saira was only 22 and Dilip Kumar was 44.
Many detractors of the couple felt that this relationship would soon fall apart. They believed that the age gap between the couple would not make their marriage a success. But, for more than four decades, the couple has proved their invincible and indomitable love for each other despite going through troubled times.
After marriage, Saira Banu continued with her film career and climbed the steps of success quickly though becoming quite selective in her choice. But by 1976, she completely stopped taking on any roles on-screen and adapted herself in the role of being a wife and homemaker.
However, it is quite a well-known fact that celebrity marriages never really go without controversies and Dilip-Saira's love story was no exception. In the 1980s, Dilip Kumar got entangled in a controversial love affair with Asma, a Pakistani lady. Two years later, Dilip broke up with Asma and came back to Saira. Amidst all the ebb and flow of life, the two have stood beside each other like a rock, considering one another to be the greatest gift of God.
For the actress there is never a day passed when she does not thank Allah for giving him a Kohinoor in the form of her husband Dilip Kumar. The much-in-love Saira has this to say:
“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.”
As for Dilip Kumar, even though he is a man of few words, he still never leaves a moment to thank the love of his life, Saira, for standing by his side. The thespian’s Twitter profile is indeed an acknowledgment of his love and respect for his wife and their marriage.
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This famous Bollywood couple is certainly one that is an example of one of the most strongest marriages in B-town. Despite age gap, controversies, and health issues, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu have always been by each other's side, and still continue to do so!