Exclusive: âœHe was a complete manâ exclaims Saira Banu as she looks upon Dilip Kumar with affection

Bollywood romances are one thing but the one Saira Banu had with the late Dilip Kumar was right out of a fairytale. You can just take his name, and she sounds like the 22 year old who had fallen head over heels in love with him and to date, still feels the same. That he’s made her a better version of herself is evident, but that love when true can truly conquer all is something she proves with everything she has to say about the 56 years she has spent with him, happily married. On the occasion of Valentine’s Day, she bares her heart out as she gives a deeper glimpse into her epic love story. Excerpts..

Dilip Kumar

The most loving thing that Dilip Saab ever did for you?

He was a complete man. I have never seen a man so wonderfully endowed with the most beautiful traits. One small thing that I can generate that accentuates and illustrates what kind of person he was. Once, when I was shooting in Kashmir, I think I was shooting for Shagird. And the weather in Kashmir suddenly changed for the worse. We could not shoot for eight or nine days over there. We just kept sitting, and eventually Samir Ganguli and Subodh Mukherjee decided suddenly overnight that this wouldn’t happen. And they shifted the entire unit from the North to the Jog Falls in the South. We had to imagine a song there. With this sudden turn of events, nothing was organised. There was nothing to eat for the unit. I usually had my own stuff and everything, but they were, of course, late in coming. They had to come in from Kashmir. And I did what I never do, which is eat what is being served. And unfortunately, the food that I ate made me sick. I was so sick that night that by morning I had food poisoning. And they had to cancel the shoot that day. Somehow I finished the shoot, but when I was back at home in Mumbai, I landed in trouble with a terrible illness.

Dilip Kumar

Go on…

And eventually, after getting to the hospital, I did not recover, and they had to shift me to London. The place where we stayed in London was a beautiful home in the suburbs. And this private hospital was in the heart of town. So when Saab wanted to organise food arrangements for me at the clinic with special permission, It would take hours in the car. So he opted for the London tube and would get a beautiful tiffin packed for me with very light food, which was ordained by the doctor. He would travel personally, deliver the food to me and my mother, and see that we had a good deal. It was the most touching, loving gesture—one of the most loving gestures that I can remember and recall, which is stuck in my mind. Every day of my life, I have been grateful to him for so many things that he’s done. He’s been a perfect gentleman. And I’ve seen the world; you know, I have travelled the world as a child. I’ve travelled the world as a grownup w working woman all over the world. Never have I seen a man so full of kindness as Dilip Saab.

Dilip Kumar

If you had to pick a romantic classic in which you could star with Dilip Saab which one would it be.

The classic that I always wanted to do with Dilip Saab and I wanted it to be my first movie with him. It was an adaptation of Pygmalion written by George Bernard Shaw. Wherein this professor, who was to be played by Dilip Saab, turns the flower girl into a lady.  I had studied it at my school and I had studied it so well that I had given an exam on it. So I know it by heart. I would have loved to have played Eliza Doolittle to his professor Professor Henry Higgins. And there’s one more.

Dilip Kumar

Please continue..

That is the romantic classic I would have wanted to do with him. Another one which I would have loved to have done with him, would have been Roman Holiday. The famous Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn movie. Wherein a princess, she takes off from her palace. Just to make a few days of an ordinary life for herself, wherein she meets this journalist and falls in love with. That was a beautiful film. I would have loved to have done it as a Hindi version.

Dilip Kumar

One lesson you learnt about love from him.

As for a lesson to learn from him, we started our life together. I would say that we have grown up together. We were married for 56 years. And he was in the bloom of his life in the early 40s. And I was 22. I really feel that I have just grown up with him. But the one best lesson that I have learned from him and that has taken me so long to own is that he never spoke ill of anyone. That is one thing I have learned from him.