On Sunday, Dilip Kumar was presented the Padma Vibhushan at his residence by home minister Rajnath Singh and Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis — an honour his wife Saira Banu is grateful for.
“Yusuf saab couldn’t attend the National awards in Delhi in April because of his health. So Rajnathji and Devendraji decided to come home with the honour. What a beautiful gesture and a truly spectacular birthday surprise for my husband,” she said referring to the veteran’s 93rd birthday earlier this week.
It has been 50 years since they took to their marital vows, but for Saira Banu, her husband and the legendary actor remains an enigma. She gushes at the thought of being the ‘chosen one’ for him.
“He could have married anyone, any woman he wanted. He chose me. I consider myself very fortunate. I always call him the Kohinoor of the film industry. I couldn’t have chosen a better life,” she says.
Dilip saab who hasn’t been in the pink of health in the past few years, has had his wife standing like a rock beside him. Saira doesn’t get the fuss made about being there for her husband.
“What are you saying? It has been entirely my privilege and honour. Main toh unke paon ki dhool bhi nahi. But seriously, all Indian wives look after their husbands. In my family I’ve seen women being devoted to their husbands. I grew up watching that. To me, it is a very natural thing.”
In view of the Chennai floods, both Dilip saab and Saira wanted to keep the former’s birthday a low-key affair.
“Chennai is a city to which Yusuf saab and I are very attached to. It is like a second home to us after Mumbai. Because Yusuf saab was doing a lot of Chennai-produced Hindi films after Kohinoor, we shifted base to Chennai and moved into a home owned by a friend. I had decided not to work after marriage but then I got good offers such as Padosan and Shagird. And Yusuf saab encouraged me to take up these offers. So you see Chennai holds wonderful memories for us both. To see the city devastated this way is deeply saddening.”
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