Hindi Cinema’s veteran actor Saira Banu turned 77 on Monday. The actress who has graced the silver screen with her performances made her debut in acting in 1960. The actress went on to tie the knot with Dilip Kumar six years after her acting debut.
However, not many know that Saira comes from a family of artists, and received her education from England. Daughter of actor Naseem Bano and film producer Ehsaan Khan Saira grew up in a family that valued education. Speaking to The Hindu, the actress had revealed that for her mother Naseem, academics were more important than films. Saira studied in one of London’s elite schools, Queen’s House.
Naseem made the decision to send her daughter to London after she saw Saira taking fancy to her ghagra, lipstick and dancing to the tunes of her film songs. Saira told The Hindu that her mother was known as the first ‘Pari Chehra’ or beauty queen of the Indian film industry. Naseem was a renowned actress in the 1940s. In London, Saira stayed with her grandmother, mother and her brother Sultan. Saira’s grandmother was Shamshad Begum who was a noted classical singer. In the interview, the actress revealed that Shamshad had settled down in London and used to receive several people from the music, film and literature fraternity at home. Saira started receiving offers for films while she was still a high school student.
It was only after she completed her GECE (General Certificate of Education) which is equivalent to today’s High School at the age of 14, that she went to Mumbai for holidays in 1960 and considered making the debut. Initially Saira was offered Hum Hindustani by producer Ram Mukherjee where she would have starred opposite Sunil Dutt. However, due to her young age she did not quite fit the role and Asha Parekh replaced her.
But Saira made her remarkable debut opposite Shammi Kapoor in Subodh Mukherjee’s directorial Junglee.