Dilip Kumar & Saira Banu’s Marriage: Bollywood’s Original Evergreen Love Story

Of all the Khans in Bollywood, if there is one who towers over them all in terms of acting skills, star power, and pure charisma, then it has to be the ultimate method actor Yusuf Khan, better known to the masses as Dilip Kumar. Dilip Kumar has been in the showbiz for more than six decades, and is one of the few Indian actors who has transgressed Indian cinema from the pre-independence to the post-independence era. Dilip Kumar’s marriage was thus a highly speculated topic. During his heydays, he was known to be quite a charming individual even in real life, and it is no wonder he was the heartthrob of several actresses including Madhubala. Eventually, Dilip Kumar tied the knot with Saira Banu who was 22 years younger to him. But did you know he even had a second marriage after that? Let’s take a closer look at the Dilip Kumar’s marriage of 50 years and his love journey.

Story Of Dilip Kumar’s Marriage : From Mr. Khan To Mr. Kumar

Dilip Kumar's Marriage

Dilip Kumar was born Yusuf Khan on 11th December 1922 in Peshawar, which was then part of British India (now in Pakistan). Kumar’s father was a landlord and fruit merchant and owned orchards in Peshawar and Deolali in Maharashtra, and this is where Kumar had most of his education. In late 1930s, his family relocated to Mumbai, and when Kumar was just 20 he left his home to have his own venture in Pune. He eventually returned back to Mumbai having successfully run a sandwich stall business in Pune, and decided to look for business opportunities in Mumbai. This is when he happened to meet actress Devika Rani through a common friend who hired him as a screenplay writer with a pay of Rs. 1250 per year (big deal those days!). It was Devika Rani who insisted that he change his name to Dilip Kumar and she cast him in his first film Jwar Bhata in the year 1944. By 1949, Dilip Kumar made a mark for himself and went on to become an actor who was known for his prowess to portray tragic roles sensitively, which gained him the moniker of ‘Tragedy King’.

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Dilip Kumar's Marriage

In Love With The Girl From Lahore

Dilip Kumar's Marriage - In-Love-With-The-Girl-From-Lahore

In his biography The Substance and the Shadow, Kumar admitted that it was in fact actress Kamini Kaushal whom he had first set his eyes on. Just like Kumar, Kamini hailed from that side of the country, which later became Pakistan, and was a Lahore-born actress now residing in Mumbai. But sadly, Kamini lost her elder sister in the year 1948, and had to marry her sister’s husband for the sake of the upbringing of her sister’s two daughters. It is said that the pair continued to have a fling even after Kamini’s marriage but they had to put an end to it due to family and societal pressure.

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Dilip Kumar’s Marriage : Falling For Anarkali

Dilip Kumar's marriage - Falling-For-Anarkali

Dilip and Madhubala first met one another when they signed the film Naya Daur in the year 1956. Few weeks into the shoot and Dilip fell for Mumtaz Jehan Dehlavi (Madhubala’s real name), and the two decided to get into a wedlock once they were done with the making of their film. Madhubala’s father did not approve of her relationship with Kumar. Things went so far that Madhubala’s father stopped her from going for outdoor shoots, and this stalled the making of their film Naya Daur. The producers dragged Madhubala and her father to the court, and while the film shooting resumed, it was not before Dilip and Madhubala had a dramatic breakup during the court hearings. Kumar admitted his feelings towards Madhubala but she could not dare disobey her father. Eventually, the pair signed-off on an acrimonious note, which left them shattered for quite some time. This then paved the way for Dilip Kumar’s marriage to his eventual wife.

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True Love, Finally!

Dilip Kumar's marriage

Sometime in 1960, Dilip Kumar was introduced to a charming yet demure girl at a public event he was attending. Kumar, being an innate gentleman, greeted the young girl and remarked that she was ‘very pretty.’ Little did he know back then that those words would have a lasting impact on her, and she would even go on to become the story of Dilip Kumar’s marriage to his future spouse. The pretty young lady was none other than Saira Banu, the ultimate fan of the superstar, who had been in love with him right from her teenage days. Saira was the daughter of actress Naseem Banu and producer Ehsan-ul-Haq, and was being groomed to make her debut on the silver screen, which she did at the tender age of 17 with the film Junglee in the year 1961. Her ethereal looks and graceful persona catapulted her to the peaks of fame, but despite all the attention, she had a crush on Dilip Kumar; an obsession that remained intact even when she was attracted to the much older and married superstar Rajendra Kumar. Saira always had that blissful dream of tying the knot with ‘The Dilip Kumar’. But the couple had considerable age difference, which raised lots of doubts in her mind but thankfully the situation would play in her favour.

By 1966, Dilip Kumar was already out of his two failed relationships and was facing a certain slump in his career. But in all the grey clouds came a silver lining when he happened to meet Saira Banu once again. She was an established actress then and did not shy away from expressing her admiration towards him. It was an expression that struck Dilip Kumar, and thanks to some coaxing by Saira’s mother Naseem Banu, the famously reticent Kumar admitted to being attracted to Saira. Eventually, the same year he went forward to make a proper marriage proposal to Saira Banu to which his elated admirer readily agreed.

Dilip Kumar’s marriage to Saira Banu was a private wedding in the year 1966. Despite the 22 year age difference (Kumar was 44 and Saira just 22), the couple did not let any of the gossip affect their marriage. The couple were having a perfect time in their wedding except a small hiccup 15 years after their marriage.

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The Less Known Second Marriage

Dilip Kumar's marriage - the-less-know-his-second-marriage

In spite of all the love between the pair, Kumar and Saira could never experience the joys of parenthood. The fact he did not have any children of his own had a disturbing effect on Kumar, which culminated into an immense sense of frustration in 1979. This is when Dilip considered tying the knot for the second in lure of having a successor for himself, and got espouse to woman named Asma. It is said that Dilip first met Asma at a cricket match in Hyderabad where she was introduced to him by his two sisters who were Asma’s friends. Asma was a married woman with children and it is said that she was a big fan of Dilip Kumar. It is said that Asma was originally from Pakistan and was looking for means to get out of her existing marriage. Since she was an ardent fan of Kumar (just like Saira), and Kumar was seeking some means of extending his bloodline, the two clicked and secretly tied the knot in the year 1979. Not much is known whether it was done with the consent of Saira Banu. Some say Kumar divorced Saira to tie the knot (to remarry her later) or it was a second marriage (since bigamy was permitted in Kumar’s faith). Either way, everyone was having it with a pinch of salt when it was learnt in 1982 that Kumar went back to his wife Saira. It was reunion that marked a new beginning in their lives. In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar shared that the Asma chapter is the one episode in his life that he would like to forget, and in fact he and Saira have indeed pushed it into an oblivion as a ‘grave mistake.’

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Dilip Kumar’s Marriage Still Growing Strong

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Saira quit films in 1988 to take up the full-fledged role of a homemaker. Dilip’s health issues were a cause of concern and Saira wanted to stay by his side. In spite of all the gloom in the past, the couple always stayed true to one another and even today are seen embracing one another like two ecstatic young lovers. Their matrimony also proves that marriage is not about two individuals who are compatible in terms of age and interests but instead it is about two disparate persons taking the solemn oath of having each another’s back no matter where life takes them. Quite a learning there for all us folks. Wishing the amazing couple all the happiness and good health.

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