“I had dreamt of only two things in life; to become famous like my mother and marry Dilip Sahab. Allah granted me both, what more could I ask for?” Saira Banu (The Hindu, 2010)One of Bollywood’s most dainty leading ladies of the 60s and 70s, Saira Banu’s acting career and love life have panned out to her heart’s content. She feels lucky to have never had to go looking for work to a film director or producer. But what she thanks Allah for every single day is to have been blessed with actor Dilip Kumar for a husband, whom she lovingly refers to as ‘My Kohinoor’.The Dilip-Saira Love StoryShe felt attracted to him for the first time at the age of 12, when he was 34. In an interview she revealed that at their very first encounter, while he casually noticed how beautiful she was, Saira already knew in her heart that one day, she will be his wife. There’s something so spectacular about love stories and cosmic connections like the one shared by Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar.Hoping to catch a glimpse of him at the premiere of Mughal-e-Azam, Saira Banu waited for Dilip Kumar to arrive. She was heartbroken when he didn’t turn up. Soon after, when she herself had become a film star and was working with Shammi Kapoor in her debut film Junglee, it was her mother, actress Naseem Banu, who arranged for a special rendezvous. Dilip Kumar was at the height of his career but at his lowest point personally, heartbroken and lonely, having just parted ways with actress Madhubala, when he met the young Saira Banu.“I was not just another girl smitten by Dilip Kumar. For me, it was no castle in the air because I had given my dream the strong foundation of faith - faith in myself and faith in God.”In a tabloid interview, Saira Banu recollects.The actress, who fell in love with Kumar after watching his 1952 film Aan, finally married the man of her dreams in 1966 when he was 44 and she was 22. Like Dilip Kumar, Saira Banu too had her share of link-ups and relationships before they got hitched. She was in love with actor Rajendra Kumar, who was a married man and had nothing to offer her. Rumours have it that Saira’s mother convinced Dilip Kumar to advise her daughter against taking things forward with Jubilee Kumar.In his autobiography, Dilip Kumar recalls the moment when he fell in love with Saira. It was during a party thrown to celebrate her birthday.“When I alighted from my car and entered the beautiful garden that leads to the house, I can still recall my eyes falling on Saira standing in the foyer of her new house looking breathtakingly beautiful in a brocade sari. I was taken aback, because she was no longer the young girl I consciously avoided working with because I thought she would look too young to be my heroine.She had indeed grown to full womanhood and was in reality more beautiful than I thought she was. I simply stepped forward and shook her hand and for us time stood still.”Dilip Kumar, Actor (Reported by India Today)He proposed to her while she was shooting for Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan. He said, “Saira, you are not the kind of girl I want to drive around with, or be seen around with... I would like to marry you... Will you be my wife?” Promptly came the response from Saira, “And how many girls have you said this to?” She, however, said yes. Their marriage has seen its share of ups and downs too. But they still stand strong, masha’allah.(This story is from The Quint’s archives and was first published on 23 August 2015. It is being republished to mark Dilip Kumar’s birthday) We'll get through this! Meanwhile, here's all you need to know about the Coronavirus outbreak to keep yourself safe, informed, and updated. The Quint is now available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, Click here to join.