By Hindustan Times
Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu are in a state of shock. Yash Chopra’s sudden demise on Sunday evening left them with a sense of emptiness. “Dilip miyaan is badly shaken,” a traumatised Saira Banu said over the phone, as her husband Dilip Kumar listened in. “Now everyone from his generation has gone. He is the last of the lot. Pray for him.”
The legendary filmmaker may be gone, but he’ll continue to remain in their hearts. Yashji visited them often, said Saira, especially for evening walks and sunset bonding. “Yash was part of our life. He would often drop by and share a soup or lunch. Sahab and he chatted while watching the sunset from the terrace. You don’t get to see such bonding among younger actors,” said Saira.
Yash met Dilip when he assisted his older brother B R Chopra with the film Naya Daur (1957). “Sahab was acting in the film and the two of them hit it off instantly. Their common love of food was one of the main bonding factors and they spoke to each other in Punjabi,” Saira told us. Stories about their love of food are legendary in Bollywood. “Their egg bhurji was famous on outdoor trips. Sahab and Yash would compete with each other and rustle up dozens of eggs,” Saira fondly remembered.
The late filmmaker and the actor spent a lot of time together recently. “They often spoke about his nephew Ravi Chopra who is in hospital. They were worried for him,” she said.
Recently on Yash’s birthday, Dilip and Saira called to wish him. “Sahab spoke to him on the phone and asked ‘Kaun sa saalgirah hai?’ When Yash said he was 80 years old, Sahab was astounded. He actually thought Yash was 72. He looked at me, and sighed. ‘Kitna waqt guzar gaya’, he said,” Saira told us.
When Yash was hospitalised with dengue recently, the actor wanted to visit his friend. So Saira called his wife Pam, in the hospital. “She said we could drop by once he was shifted out of the ICU.” says Saira. But that did not happen.
It was thanks to Dilip Kumar that Yash Chopra cast Anil Kapoor in the film Mashaal. “Yash visited us in Bangalore, bringing with him a boy named Anil,” said Saira. “He wanted Sahab’s approval to cast him in their film Mashaal (1984). Anil was Sahab’s choice. Imagine the trust and respect they shared.” When Anil Kapoor broke down on Sunday evening after Yash Chopra passed away, Dilip and Saira could only lend him their trembling hands for support. Indeed, an era has passed.