Dilip Kumar turns 95: It’ll be an open house for everyone to meet sahab, says Saira Banu

As veteran actor Dilip Kumar turns 95 today, his wife Saira Banu talks about his improved health and the unconditional affection of his fans, who continue to shower their love on him.

bollywood Updated: Dec 11, 2017 11:51 IST
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Monika Rawal Kukreja
Hindustan Times
Dilip Kumar,Saira Banu,Dilip Kumar birthday
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar tunes 95 today.(Vijayanand Gupta/ HT Photi)

He is known as the tragedy king of Bollywood but veteran actor Dilip Kumar’s life has been a fulfilling, invigorating journey that not many get to experience. With an acting career spanning over six decades and several blockbuster films to his credit, Kumar is one of the finest actors of his era. As the veteran turns 95, his wife, actor Saira Banu, speaking exclusively to HT, says, “It is love and prayers of millions of his fans that has blessed him with good health and a good life. Sab log, jo itna chahte hain sahab ko, itni mohhabbat karte hai unse, dil bhar aaa hai. I am overwhelmed to see it and to feel it.”

Kumar has not been keeping well for quite some time. After a prolonged illness, he was diagnosed with pneumonia last month. “It can get very tricky at this age. Touchwood, he’s much better and on the road to recovery, but we have to be very careful. By God’s grace, we’ve been monitoring him at home and didn’t have to be away for the treatment,” shares Banu.

Will there be a grand celebration for his 95th birthday? “You won’t believe, I had to literally request people not to fly in from all over the world— his fans, relatives, family friends — they all wanted to come in and wish him happy birthday. It’s so loving and wonderful. But doctors have advised that sahab can’t be crowded around [by people] when he is recovering.” However, nothing stops them from keeping alive the age old tradition on Kumar’s birthday. “It’s a happy day for us and like all the years gone by, this year too, it will be an open house and all the people that love sahab can come and meet him, but I have to be very cautious and try and keep him away from any kind of infection.”

Apart from the visitors, it would mostly be Kumar’s brothers, sisters and closest family friends, who would be a part of the quiet affair at home. “We are going to celebrate in a very simple way. Being at home, cutting the cakes. Lots of cakes come in and the whole house is flooded with flowers,” says Banu.

Banu recalls Kumar’s 89th birthday, when almost the entire film fraternity turned up for the celebration. She says it feels so good when younger actors come to visit him. “It is all good wishes that are coming back to us. When Dilip sahab had seniors, he did the same for them. When Ashok [Kumar] uncle was unwell in Chembur, sahab made it a point, despite his busy schedule, to visit him, sit next to him, regale with him laughter and old memories. Also, comedian Om Prakash was one of sahab’s close friends and in his later years, Dilip Ji went out of his way to visit him. When Naushad Ji, the great music director who’s worked with sahab in many films, was ill, every evening sahab would go, sit by his side, sing songs and entertain him. So, today, when youngsters such as Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra and many others come to see sahab, it is like all the wonderful things are coming back to us. It shows the kind of love and respect they have for him,” she says.

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First Published: Dec 10, 2017 18:21 IST