Popular for being a seductive beauty of the 60s,Saira Banu was not only an actress, but was also screen sizzler and a darling of the audiences. In her three decade career, she has acted in over 30 films. She is married to the legendary yesteryear actor Dilip Kumar, who is 22 years older than her.
Saira Banu aka Saira Bano was born on 23rd August 1944. She spent much of her childhood in London and finished her schooling there. Saira Banu's mother Naseem Banu was an actress and her father Mian Ehsan-ul-Haq was a film producer. Film producer Mian Ehsan-UL-Haq has produced the film 'Phool' in Bombay and film 'Wadah' in Pakistan and actress Naseem Banu. Her grandmother was the courtesan Chamiyan Bai.
For most of her childhood, she stayed in London and attended a finishing school. She made her Bollywood debut at the age of 16. She had also taken lessons in Indian classical dancing such as Kathak, as well as Bharata Natyam, which was seen in her dancing in the films. Her first major film was 'Junglee' in the year 1961, where she starred against Shammi Kapoor for which she got nominated for best actress award in Filmfare. The title song of the movie 'Yahoo!' is being remembered till date. Aghajani Kashmeri, the lyricist of the song also helped Saira to get her Urdu dialect clear. She was known as one of the most beautiful actresses of Bollywood. But like her contemporaries, she did not have a tag of Trained Dancer. Thus, she started learning Classical Dancing which became the USP of her later movies. The role of Bindu in 'Padosan' extra-ordinarily portrayed by her is marked as the turning point of her career. Saira Banu has attempted different types of roles in her film career which also include the role of an NRI in 'Purab Aur Pachhim'. Her on-screen pairing with Joy Mukerji was a great hit. She mostly featured opposite Shammi Kapoor, Rajendra Kumar, Dharmendra and hubby Dilip Kumar. She also appeared with Amitabh Bachchan in 'Zameer' and 'Hera Pheri'. She did earn three additional Filmfare nominations as Best Actress for 'Shagird' (1967), 'Diwana' (1968), and 'Sagina' (1974). At the age of 22, she got married to Yusuf Khan i.e. Bollywood superstar Dilip Kumar who was 44 at that time. Her father, after the sad demise of Dilip's first wife proposed Dilip to marry his daughter Saira. Though, in an interview, Saira confessed that she was in love with Dilip Kumar since she was 12 years old and it was her dream to marry him when she came into the industry.
Throughout the 60s, she was seen in films such as 'Shaadi' (1962), 'Bluffmaster' (1963), 'April Fool' (1964), 'Saaz Aur Awaz' (1966), 'Padosan' (1968), 'Jhuk Gaya Aasman' (1968) and 'Aadmi Aur Insaan' (1969). Her films, 'Padosan' and 'Jhuk Gaya Aasman' were particularly popular. In the later one, she sizzled the screens with the song' Unse Mili Nazar'.
'Purab Aur Pachhim' (1971), 'Victoria' (1972), 'Jwar Bhata' (1973), 'Saazish' (1975) and 'Kala Aadmi' (1978) are some of her films in the 70s. Well into the 80s, she was seen in the films 'Duniya' (1984) and 'Faisla' (1988).
In 1980, she was facing some problems in her married life and so she took a decision to end her film career. Though she is no more active on the silver screen, she is still remembered as a significant part of the 60s era.