Onetime screen diva Saira Banu relishes the time she spent with her husband, the legendary Dilip Kumar, and doesn't regret her decision to cut down film projects after tying the knot. She says spending time with him was more important to her than anything else.
There is almost a generational 22-year age gap between Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar, but Indian filmdom's highly regarded couple have enjoyed a blissful married life ever since tying the knot in 1966.
In a rare look back into her past life, Saira Banu said in an informal chat with IANS: "I have no regrets of not doing too many films post my marriage. Whatsoever, the greatest thing was to be together with Dilip saab. From the day Dilip saab proposed to me, it has been great. He is the strongest person in my life."
She was just 17 when she made her debut with the super hit film Junglee and after that she dazzled on the silver screen with Ayee Milan Ki Bela (1964), Saaz Aur Awaaz (1966) and Pyar Mohabbat (1966).
But Saira Banu happily gave up the arclights and grease paint to revel in her role as a wife and a homemaker.
"I worked for three-and-a-half to four years in showbiz and then I got married to Dilip saab. I decided not work after marriage as I thought it would not work out as Dilip saab was a constant traveller. I wanted to be at home and spend some good time with him," said the actress who recently turned 68.
Her career was on the rise and Dilip Kumar wanted her to take it forward.
"Dilip saab never said I should not work. In fact, when Dilip sahib saw the rushes of 'Shagird' before its release, he was so impressed by it that he said it's a pity that I stopped working. I did some selective films after my marriage but it's been a wonderful journey."
"Shagird", in which she was paired with Joy Mukherjee, came after her marriage and it turned out to be a commercial hit. After that in 1968 she gave two big hits - Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan and Padosan, three years later came hit movie Purab Aur Paschim. It was followed by Victoria No. 203 (1972), Zameer (1974) and Hera Pheri (1976).
She also teamed up with Dilip Kumar in Gopi (1970), Sagina (1974) and her last big release Bairaag that came in the year 1976.
Happy playing a perfect homemaker, Saira Banu plans to release Dilip Kumar's autobiography on his birthday, Dec 11 this year.
Talking about the same, she said: "We are compiling his autobiography. If it gets ready by his birthday, then we will release it that day. We are working on it."
In the autobiography, Dilip Kumar, 89, has narrated his life's story to veteran film journalist Uday Tarra Nayar.
Talking about Dilip Kumar's health the doting wife said: "His health is fine, he is doing very well. We go for a walk at Joggers' Park, at times we don't. He is busy at home and enjoying being together. God is being extremely kind to us."