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Dilip Saab is a true gentleman: Saira Banu

Published Jun 8, 2014, 12:26 am IST
Updated Apr 1, 2019, 2:53 am IST
The yesteryear star talks about her marriage to the legendary 'Tragedy King'
Mumbai: Substance and Shadow, the much-awaited autobiography by thespian Dilip Kumar, is set for a grand launch on Monday by Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan in Mumbai.
After the death of Dev Anand, Dilip Kumar is perhaps the lone surviving superstar of the black and white era and the launch of his autobiography is set to be one of the biggest literary events Bollywood has seen in a long time.
On the occasion, Saira Banu, the actor’s better half, talks about the book, the revelations within and yes, the other women in Dilip Saab’s life.
A long journey from Peshawar
“I am very happy. It was a dream of mine for years that Dilip Saab would write his autobiography. So much has been written about him over the years but I wanted him to tell the story of his life,” says Saira, adding, “Nobody knows about his childhood. He had an amazing childhood. His father was a successful businessman. No one knows about his wonderful and successful father. I had insisted that he write his autobiography, about his childhood and his journey into cinema.”
“Dilip Saab was born in Peshawar; he was the son of a successful fruit merchant who was respected and had a good reputation. The book talks about his journey from Peshawar to Deolali, Nasik and thereafter to Pune and his subsequently foray into films,” she adds.
Out of hibernation
The couple has preferred to remain away from the limelight for many years now and Saira says that it actually feels great to be talked about again. “Coming in the news after so many years definitely feels great (laughs). Actually we have been hibernating. And since we had some health issues, we kept a low profile.
But we were there for the birthday celebrations of Amitabh Bachchan. Our ‘kids’, Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir have also been visiting us constantly. While Shah Rukh and Salman visit us on special occasions, Aamir comes to our place frequently; he is more accessible to us.”
“We do socialize and have many friends, but not many from the industry though. Baby Farida, Farida Jalal and Mumtaz are our good friends. Sharmila Tagore had come over to meet us just a month ago. But outside the industry we have many friends and relatives so we are very busy during their visits.”
And while she praises the younger generation of actors, Saira feels that they have had it easy. “The young generation is very lucky that they have great platforms like reality shows where they can showcase their talent. In our time we were deprived of such platforms which could change our professional lives overnight. With the advent of television, opportunities are indeed knocking at the doors of the talented lot.”
Busy days

“Both of us are fond of music, especially yesteryear songs and classical instrumental. We spend out evenings listening to music. We do listen to current hits too,” says Saira about their daily routine, adding, “Dilip Saab is also fond of sports, therefore we watch cricket and football too when the games are telecast on TV We also celebrate all the festivals like Diwali, Eid etc. Our days are quite busy this way.”
Talking about their NGO, she says, “We have been running an NGO for the last 25 years; we see to it that everything is managed in an orderly manner. A few of us friends manage this and now we have a group of doctors who provide medical facilities to the needy. Our NGO takes care of 30 to 36 families. We take care of their daily needs.”
Secrets of a happy married life
“At this stage of my life I can only thank the almighty God that I have managed to continue my married life beautifully. This has been possible only because of the pious 
teachings of my mother.  I am content with the wonderful life that I have shared with Dilip Saab. I have been in love with him from the tender age of 12everyone knows about it. My mantra of keeping the marriage intact is very simple – I never dwell on misunderstandings.
"Looking back, I knew my priorities in life. After marriage, I had to distance myself from films. I do not regret that at all. One needs to sacrifice a lot and not ask for anything in return. And ego should never get space in a relationship.”
Saia adds, “I am no one to advice today’s generation. But I say to myself, ‘if I am married to Dilip Saab, then as a wife it is my duty to make my marriage work in spite of the small problems that everyone faces in life.”
On “other” women
About Madhubala and the other women who are mentioned in Dilip Kumar’s autobiography, Saira Banu says, “Dilip Saab is very much a gentleman - a refined gentleman who has always respected all the women in his life. Look at me, I keep gushing about my love for him until this day.
"Undeniably, he is deeply in love with me but has never made an open mention about it. Everything mentioned in the book, about his ladies and his life, is true. You will have to read the book.”

Must reads from the book-
·     Dilip Saab reveals his love story with Saira Banu
·      First interaction with Lata Mangeshkar in a local train while travelling to Malad
·      Promotional strategies
·      Progress as a young actor from Jwar Bhata (His first film, in 1994) to Jugnu (1947)
Watch rare interview of Dilip Kumar where he talks about bollywood and his first break: