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Published by Nasir Ali
Naseem Banu's role in the lives for the first Bollywood couple: Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu
Naseem Banu's role in the lives for the first Bollywood couple: Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Nasir Ali on Jun 27, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Naseem Banu, in her heydays, was known as “Pari Chehra” (fairy-face). In Easternfolklores and Muslim literatures, fairies are supposed to be the most beautifuland desirable females on earth, just as a howri (‘Hoor’) is a desirable species ofParadise (‘Jannat’) Coming from a wealthy family, Naseem Banu was endowed withbeauty, grace and elegance that charmed the people around her. She was “the mostravishingly beautiful actress ever” and had the most gorgeous eyes: large, round-shaped and heavy lidded. She did not need any fine silk or satins or jewels toattract attention but was the original Beauty Queen.Being one of the finest actresses of her time, she left her imprints in suchmovies as KHOON KA KHOON or HAMLET, TALAAQ, BASANTI, ANOKHI ADA, CHANDNI RAAT,CHAL CHAL RE NAUJAWAN, SHEESH MAHAL, SINDABAD THE SAILOR, AJEEB LADKI, and ofcourse the classic 1939 flick, PUKAR, where she portrayed the role of EmpressNoor Jehan, and in many other movies. She was the first female Super Star of hertime.Beginning her filmy career in 1935, (KHOON KA KHOON) she went on playing theheroine roles till 1953 (BAGHI). The second phase of her filmy career began withher donning important supporting roles from 1957 (NAUSHERWAN-E-ADIL) where sheplayed the role of the beautiful Mallika-e-Iran and wife to Nausherwan (SohrabModi) till 1972 (PAKEEZAH) and beyond (KABHIE KABHIE - 1976). In the meantime,beginning 1964 (APRIL FOOL) she took charge of costume designing and the costumeand wardrobe department for her daughter, Saira Banu, in many memorable movies,such as PADOSAN, JHUK GAYA AASMAAN, PURAB PACHHIM, VICTORIA 203, JWAR BHATA,POCKETMAAR, RESHAM KI DORI, CHAITALI, BAIRAAG right up to KALA AADMI (1978).The sarees, the the mini-sarees, the mini-skirts, the bathroom towels, two-piecetowel wear, the pearl strings, the mink stoles, chokers, the tom-boyish pants andshirts, silver anklets, the daring décolletage, that we have been Saira Banu wearin most of her movies, were all designed by Naseem Banu. In the early Sixties,Naseem Banu also dabbled in film production along with her son, Sultan Ahmed. Asa teenager I remember seeing an entire page that was devoted to the promotion ofthat film called PALKON KI CHAAON MEIN in the prestigious film weekly, "Screen"and "Cine Advance". Unfortunately, for some reasons or the other this film nevertook off.It was Naseem Banu who had taken active steps in getting Saira Banu married toDilip Kumar. Now Dilip Kumar certainly needs no introduction. Besides being aninspiration for generation of actors in India, he is also a philanthropist, agreat human being, and one of the most revered and multi-dimensionalpersonalities in India. Dilip Kumar was the most eligible bachelor of his time.Saira Banu, for her part, was so thrilled that she did not mind surrendering the35 movie projects, including the English version of the film GUIDE, and JEWELTHIEF, as well as Mehboob Khan’s (d.1964) HABBA KHANTUN, that she had in herhands.Soon after the marriage, Dilip Kumar, too, for the love of his wife, spent mostof his free time or rather began living in Saira Banu’s Bungalow where hismother-in-law, Naseem Banu, also resided. Dilip Kumar’s own landmarkBungalow is at a distance of couple of minutes’ walk or so from Saira’s. By theway, Dilip Kumar’s Bungalow (48/B, Pali Hills) has always been a reference pointfor the traffic moving about the Pali Hills which had acquired the equivalence ofHollywood’s Beverley Hills. As for Naseem Banu, she remained with them till herdying day and as long as she was alive, she supervised the going-abouts in theirhome, including the repairing of the wear and tear of the walls and bricks andfurniture. She was a past-master at selecting the right colour for painting thewalls and often gave tips to the contractors and painters on how to arrive at thecorrect shades of the desired colours – much to their surprise and delight. Shewas also an expert in interior designing, and in fact, the spacious foyer inside

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