It is Rajesh Khanna’s 80th birth anniversary today. Going down memory lane, Saira Banu, when contacted, tells us that she missed working with the superstar not once but twice. “We almost did two films but they never happened,” she tells ETimes.
The first was ‘Chhoti Bahu’, which was eventually done by Sharmila Tagore. “I fell unwell and I went to London for treatment. I had a colitis problem and had to opt out from the film. But I will never forget the grand mahurat of the film we had at Mumbai’s Roop Tara Studios in Dadar. We shot a picture of us drinking tea together, that was talked about for the longest time. The original idea had a cup and saucer both. But Rajesh said that we can remove the cup. The final picture of us drinking tea from either side of the saucer, which went on to become very famous.”
Sairas Banu’s health then did not allow her to do ‘Resham Ki Dori’ also opposite Rajesh Khanna. “I left that film too. Originally, Rajesh was supposed to do it. When I returned from London, it had Dharmendra and he had even shot some portions of it.” However, Saira Banu and Rajesh Khanna always kept in touch on the phone. “We respected each other so much. He came to our house too in 1989 on Dilip saab’s birthday with Dimple. That day, almost the entire industry- Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Priyanka Chopra included, were present.”
After Rajesh Khanna fell ill, Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu were still in touch with him. “We had the same family doctor, (late) Dr Shrikant Gokhale. I must say that he always admired my work and we shared great mutual respect for each other.”