There are alarming reports about Saira Banu’s physical and mental health after the demise of her legendary husband Dilip Kumar. Close friends say Saira has withdrawn into a shell and refuses to meet anyone. Mumtaz who is in Mumbai, actually dropped in at the famous bungalow in Pali Hill without an appointment, waited to meet the lady of the house, but had to return disappointed. “It’s so sad. Sairaji seems to be have gone into a shell after Yusuf Saab’s sad passing away. I made many attempts to contact her. When I could not reach her, I dropped in at her home. But I couldn’t meet her I feel really said. I remember the last time I met them both at their bungalow. Sairaji was so gracious. She had made really delicious cookies and cakes for me,” says Mumtaz who has worked with both Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, the former in Ram Aur Shyam, the latter in Aadmi Aur Insaan.
Saira Banu and Mumtaz’s Aadmi Aur Insaan leading man Dharmendra is also worried about the self-imposed exile of Mrs Dilip Kumar. “I made many attempts to reach her. She does not answer calls. I was very close to Dilip Saab, and to Saira. I do not want to intrude on her privacy. I only hope she is in good health.”
Adds Shatrughan Sinha, “Kaisi hai Sairaji? Yeh sawaal toh main aapse puchna chahta hoon. After Dilip Saab, she has gone into a shell. We all lost the greatest actor. But she lost much more. I want her to know my wife and I are there for her if she needs us.”
For Saira Banu ever since she married Dilip Kumar in 1966 there was no other life except that as his devoted wife.
In an interview with me some years ago Saira had said, “For me, it was always Saab, no one else. I was his fan from the time I can remember. While still a teenager, I wanted to be his wife. I am very headstrong and once I made up my mind, there was no stopping me. I knew many beautiful women wanted to marry Saab, but he chose me. It was my dream come true and that\’s what my marriage has been, a perfect dream. Looking after Saab, his life and his home comes naturally to me. Saab never asked me to give up my career. In fact, he encouraged me to continue after marriage. But, after a while, my heart was not in my career. I just wanted to take care of Saab. Our marriage is the most important thing in my life. I do not miss having a child because Saab is like a child at heart. I am not being a martyr when I say I don\’t regret putting my career on the backburner. 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 am lucky to be so close to him for so many years. I could not have chosen a better life. I cannot imagine any other life for me.I guess if I was chosen to be his wife, I must be special. Unki biwi hone ke liye caliber honi chahiye (to be his wife one needed to be of some caliber). But seriously, all Indian wives look after their husbands. In my family, I have seen women being devoted to their husbands. I grew up watching that.”