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Saira: 'I persuaded him to narrate his story'

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Mumbai, June 9 -- Chronicling the life and times of the icon Dilip Kumar can't possibly be an easy task.

Over the years, several authors have attempted it, writing biographies dedicated to the 91-year-old, but the veteran actor's wife (they've been married for 38 years), Saira Banu, never gave any of them her stamp of approval. Then about 10 years ago, she realised that the only person who could do justice to his story is the man himself. And thus began the writing of Dilip saab's autobiography. A day before the book launch, we speak to Banu about her husband's journey and more.     

What took this book 10 years to be written?     It was not being written for 10 years. But it did take that long to accumulate the material for it, through recordings, a lot of research and inputs from people who grew up with him (Kumar).     

Whose idea was it to write a book on Dilip saab's life?     I felt his story had to be told by him, since the authors who had written his biographies in the past had not got the facts right. So I persuaded him to narrate his story to Udaya Tara Nayar (veteran journalist), who is a close friend and a fine writer. That's how it is an autobiography penned by Udaya Tara.     

Were you actively involved in the writing?     I left Tara undisturbed to write it and I had complete trust in her to not misrepresent any facts.     What can we expect from it?     She has narrated the story of his (Kumar's) entire life from the day he was born. All the truth is there.     

What part or chapter of the autobiography is your favourite?     The entire book is special to me, as it is the first time Dilip saab has spoken about his life from what it was in Peshawar, to making it in Mumbai. He isn't someone who likes to use words a lot, but [if I were to choose one] my favourite part would be the one where he has spoken about our romance.     

Dilip saab is quite reserved now. Does he meet his friends from the industry often?     They visit him... Ramesh Sippy, Subhash Ghai and Dharmendra drop by whenever they feel like spending time with him. Aamir Khan visits us. Lataji (Mangeshkar) talks to him on the phone. Kamal Haasan and Vyjayanthimala come over whenever they are in town.