Saira Banu

- Vikram Chandiramani 

Shashdhar Mukherji, who had discovered Sadhana and Asha Parekh, recommended Saira Banu to his brother Subodh Mukherji when the latter was planning his film, 'Junglee'. Saira is the daughter of yesteryear' beauty Naseem Banu, and was therefore called 'Beauty Queen'.

'Junglee' was a super-duper hit and Saira Banu figured in many more successful films including 'Shaadi', 'Bluff Master', 'April Fool', 'Aayee Milan Ki Bela', 'Shagrid', 'Jhuk Gaya Aasman' and 'Aman'. With her first film Saira Banu earned herself the image of an Oomph Girl who would chase her man to the ends of the earth. She was the girl who seemed westernised and was yet acceptable to the front-benchers.

Manoj Kumar did full justice to her personality in 'Purab Paschim', in which she played an NRI girl under western influence. Her blonde wig and a cigarette burning in her fingers along with an ignorant,"Gita? What Gita?" is still remembered and copied!

At the height of her romance with Rajendra Kumar, among the rumors of their marriage, she surprised the industry by marrying Dilip Kumar, who was twice her age! She continued acting even after marriage and even did some films ('Sagina' and 'Bairaag') with Dilip Kumar. These days she is producing a popular TV serial, 'Is Duniya Ke Sitare'.