“My husband has ruled my dreams since I was a child. Ever since I started praying, I would ask the God almighty for two wishes – one, make me an actress, and two, please make me Mrs Dilip Kumar.” This is how Saira Banu describes her love and commitments towards ‘husband and friend’, Dilip Kumar, one of the greatest actors of Indian cinema…For his 93rd birthday, Aarti Kapur Singh talks to the forever romantic couple about the one thing they love doing together – holidaying.
What is your favorite destination in the world?
Dilip Kumar (DK): My heart lies at home, with my wife. I know staying at home may not be the conventional idea of a holiday, but I need to feel at home wherever I go. That’s why it is necessary that Saira (my wife) travels with me. Then I am comfortable anywhere. Life is an enjoyable journey in the company of someone you love.
Saira Banu (SBK): Our farmhouse in Lonavla! It exudes calm. We grow our own vegetables and fruits and go fishing nearby. We are collectively fond of Dubai, because it is such a forward-moving and cosmopolitan destination. We also like London a lot – especially the Hyde Park area – the old world charm is magnetic.
Any favorite holiday memory?
SBK: Once we had gone on a family holiday to a village near Lucknow. We were staying in a remote guesthouse. Back in those days, the dak bungalows were actually ‘dark’ bungalows, because there was no electricity. Yusuf Saheb hid in one of the rooms with a white sheet over my head. As soon as I came in, he jumped from behind the door. I was screeching at the top of my voice and all our relatives came to pacify me.
DK: Many years later, when we were shooting for Ab To Banja Sajanwa Hamaar, Saira’s debut as producer, in Rajpipla in Gujarat, I attempted the same prank. Saira really got angry this time. She was still scared!
What do you like to do while on holiday?
DK: When I was young, I would walk for miles on end. It’s the best way to take in local sights and sounds. Even now, if I am up to it, I still walk.
SBK: We play a lot of board games and read. Both of us are very fond of meeting people so we do that too.
How fond are you of local cuisines?
SBK: Oh this question you should ask Saheb
DK: I am a complete foodie. I am very fond of eating, especially fish. Wherever I go, I make it a point to try out the local fish preparations. I am not very fond of sushi, but I like spicy food. I once had poached fish in Dubai, which was very nice.
Any souvenirs that you like to pick up?
DK: Saira is the artistic one—she has a great taste for curios, artefacts and so on. I am just a simple farmer, so I often tend to pick up seeds, interesting plants, flowers and saplings for my home in Mumbai and our Lonavla farmhouse.
SBK: Yes I love picking up local paintings from wherever we go! I have a beautiful portrait of Saheb that was sketched by a street artist in France.
Aarti Kapur Singh