An ode to Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu

A couple that stayed strong even during storms in relationship


July 10, 2021

/ By / Mumbai

An ode to Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu

Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu could be considered as the First Couple of Bollywood

Countless images of an inconsolable Saira Banu mourning the loss of her life-partner legendary actor Dilip Kumar have been doing the rounds of media. Ramesh Tekwani pays tribute to one of the most loved Bollywood couples.

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Dilip Kumar is at peace. Saira Banu is grateful, a little sad, perhaps, a bit relieved; but hasn’t given a thought to the impending loneliness.

Grateful for the 54 years of togetherness, that survived the waves and the winds. Mutual togetherness, as opposed to mutual separation, has been the watch word in their lives. There were the brambles that pricked and scratched and hurt as the moved along in life, and regardless of all, they moved ahead, together.

Togetherness in life is not like two horses pulling a chariot or two people rowing a boat together. Boat, here, being eponymous to life, in the same boat, sharing lives as a couple. One at each oar, presumably.  If the two are in sync, and equally strong, they can make the boat go fast, going no place in particular, but fast, missing the sights and sounds, and the company of friends and family.

Extending the analogy, more often than not the strengths are not matched and rowing at full power, the boat starts to go in circles. The stronger one has, now, to go easy to match the rhythm of the gentler so that the two, together, can proceed harmoniously; as did Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar! They synchronised their lives to keep together, through thick and thin.

Saira Banu’s sorrow may be two-fold. Parting now is no sweet sorrow, after all, how does one say good night when there will be no ’morrow. Put aside the personal loss of a companion for life, the real sorrow is, perhaps, for the thespian himself. At 98 years, the final curtain call by the Divine Creator could be deemed a bit pre-mature.

There are many, like Saira Banu, who would most readily have bartered, two years of their lives if it would allow Dilip Kumar reach the high point of a hundred years. Yusuf Sahab could have collected several lifetimes that way; not that he would have wanted them ever, and certainly not in the condition he was. However, Saira, perhaps, would have like to give a few more, calculated years so that they could take the final bow together; but it doesn’t happen like that. Not even in the futuristic 1982, Ridley Scott classic Blade Runner in which we saw that hours, days and months could be bartered for earthly pleasures like food, drink and flesh or but not borrowed to complete some unfinished, last minute tasks.

Relief is relative, in such circumstances, and no pleasure at all. It is a proxy, posthumous feeling one feels for the departed. So engrossed, is in one in the rapid memories of togetherness to hang on to every last vestige of the silent disappearing presence, one does not realise that, now, one is indeed alone.

उनकी बेशुमार यादों ने तन्हाई को ऐसे भर दिया

कि अहसास भी न हुआ कि हम अकेले रह गए (हैं)

The countless memories of him so filled my loneliness

That I did not even realise that I had been left alone.



-The author is a film maker having created about 700 films  which include shorts, documentaries and TVCs. He is also vice-president of Film Federation of India. 



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