Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu’s love story is straight out of a romantic novel; Read more

If timeless couples from Indian cinema were to be listed, the names of Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu would certainly be at the top of the list. Their marriage was talked about because of the 22-year age difference between the two.

However, their love stood the test of time and lasted until Dilip Kumar’s dying days. With a love story that could rival any romantic classic, even the two stars’ first meeting was nothing short of extraordinary.

For Saira Banu, who was 12 when she saw a 34-year-old Dilip Kumar on the bug screen, it was love at first sight. She yearned to meet him one day and had a missed opportunity at age 16 in the form of premiering Mughal-e-Azam. When Saira attended the premiere on August 5, 1960, she hoped to finally meet her crush. But the actress was devastated when the star didn’t show up.

Saira Banu finally met Dilip Kumar a bit later as she also made a name for herself in the industry. Saira called their first meeting magical. She described how she first met him in a previous interview. She said: ‘I could feel my whole being soaring and flying with delight as he smiled at me and said I was a beautiful girl. I knew deep down that one day I would be his wife.

Saira Banu soon started appearing in more and more movies and was paired with many actors, but she wanted to star alongside Dilip Kumar. However, the renowned actor turned down many movie offers with her because he thought she was too young to be cast opposite him. However, the charm of the young actress finally got the better of him.

In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar: Substance and Shadow, he wrote: “When I got out of my car and entered the beautiful garden leading to the house, I still remember my eyes falling on Saira standing in the hall of her breathtakingly beautiful new home in a brocade saree.

“I was surprised 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 reached full femininity and was actually more beautiful than I thought. I just walked over and shook her hand and, for us, time stood still.

The couple finally got married in 1966 when Saira was 22 and Dilip Kumar was 44. It is said that Saira’s mother took the initiative to talk the actor into marrying her daughter. The couple shared a 54-year happy married life with their share of ups and downs, including a miscarriage after which they both decided not to have any more children.

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