Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar in a frame. (Courtesy: Saira Banu Khan)

New Delhi:

Veteran actress Saira Banu often treats fans to priceless images and adorable anecdotes from the good old days. She has now talked about the “great camaraderie” her late husband, Bollywood legend Dilip Kumar, shared with fellow actor Ashok Kumar. Saira Banu has shared a photograph of the two legends and revealed that renowned actress Devika Rani, who was also the boss of Bombay Talkies Studio, introduced the two actors and their “warm handshake marked the beginning of a friendship that was to last a lifetime.” She also remembered how Dilip Kumar addressed Ashok Kumar as “bhaiyaa [brother]”. 

In her note, Saira Banu wrote, “One morning, [Dilip Kumar] Sahib ran into Dr. Masani, his father’s acquaintance, and told him that he was in search of a job. Dr. Masani suggested that he should go with him and took him along to meet Mrs. Devika Rani, the boss of Bombay Talkies Studio. Devika Raniji, a picture of elegance, welcomed them and took them personally to the floor where a shooting was going on. She led him to a man [Ashok Kumar] who was well-dressed and looked distinguished. His dark hair was combed back and he smiled through his eyes at [Dilip Kumar] Sahib.” 

Talking about Dilip Kumar and his “bhaiyya” Ashok Kumar’s friendship, Saira Banu added, “He [Ashok Kumar] held his [Dilip Kumar] hand in a warm handshake that marked the beginning of a friendship that was to last a lifetime. He was Ashok Kumar, the superstar who soon became “Bhaiyya [brother]” to [Dilip Kumar] Sahib. He [Ashok Kumar] said that he knew why he [Dilip Kumar] was there. You are a handsome man and I can see you [Dilip Kumar] are eager to learn. Well, it’s very simple. You [Dilip Kumar]  just do the scene given to you as you would behave in a real-life situation if you were really in it. Be natural if you try to act it out, it will look silly.”

Saira Banu recalled that the legendary Raj Kapoor would often join Sahib [Dilip Kumar] at Ashok Kumar’s house. They [Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar] used to relish bhajiyas [fritters] made by Ashok Kumar’s wife Shoba bhabhi. Saira Banu revealed that Ashok Kumar “would chide them jokingly. You come here and flirt with my wife, eat nice bhajiyas and you don’t want to accompany me in playing badminton.”

She wrote, “Ashok bhaiyya lived close to the Studios those days and Raj [Kapoor] and Dilip [Kumar] Sahib were always welcomed in bhaiyya’s home to savour hot bhajiyas made by his wife Shoba bhabhi…He would chide them jokingly, You come here and flirt with my wife, eat nice Bhajiyas and you don’t want to accompany me in playing badminton. Later, when they worked together, on Ashok bhaiyya’s order there would be a “dawaat [feast]” at lunchtime with delicious food like biryani and homemade ice cream.” 

Saira Banu also shared that when Ashok Kumar was battling with health issues, Dilip Kumar took it upon himself to “regale him with Urdu couplets and wicked jokes.” 

The actress wrote, “Many years later when Bhaiyya was at home out of health problems, Sahib used to visit him frequently at his Chembur house where he would be resting in bed very much his ebullient self but naturally weaker, and Sahib took it upon himself to regale him with Urdu couplets and wicked jokes. He would respond marvellously and cheer up. Sahib and I visited him regularly while Bhaiyya’s man Khurshid followed us out and told us that ‘Dada Moni’ really perks up and livens up with your coming.” 

“This was a great camaraderie in bad times,” she signed off. 

On the occasion of Friendship Day, Saira Banu shared a montage featuring Dilip Kumar and his friends on Instagram.  The actress said that “friends were the light of [Dilip Kumar] Sahib’s life.”

Dilip Kumar died in 2021 after a prolonged illness, at the age of 98.

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