The 90-year-old legend of Indian cinema Muhammad Yousuf Khan — who attained world fame with his screen name Dilip Kumar — and his actress wife Saira Bano have been so touched and spiritually exhilarated by their journey to Mecca that they have extended their stay in the holy city by a couple of more days. "Dilip Kumar performed Umrah along with a 21-member entourage three days ago. He is absolutely thrilled and spiritually charged," said Faisal I. Farooqui, a close family friend and CEO of mouthshut.com.
Talking to The Sunday Guardian on Friday, Farooqui said that one of the most poignant moments during the journey was when Dilip Kumar was performing the mandatory tawaf (circumambulation) of the Holy Kaaba, the cube-like structure in whose direction Muslims of the world turn to five times a day.
"He was full of energy and was reading aloud verses from the Holy Quran while performing the tawaf. When we all heard him speak aloud, we started repeating the prayers after him," said Farooqui. "Those were very touching moments, especially because Sahib is a man of few words."
During the circumambulation, Dilip Kumar was in total awe. "He was involved in all aspects of the religious rituals ... whether it was the donning of the ihram (two pieces of unstitched white sheet), or performing the tawaf or saee in Mecca, he was a picture of total submission to Almighty Allah," said Farooqui. "I have not seen him in a more composed and serene manner in such a long time."
Farooqui said that two people should find special mention while writing about Dilip Kumar's journey to the holy land. "They are Saira Bano and her brother Sultan Ahmad. Without Saira Baji's extraordinary energy and Sultan Bhai and his family's support, the whole trip would not have been possible," he said.
He said "Sahib and Saira Baji" were touched by the generosity extended by everyone during their stay in Medina and Mecca. "All of them were gracious and polite. They understood the family's concern for Sahib's well-being and were very supportive. The people in Medina ... the people in Mecca ... they were all very, very helpful."
Farooqui, whose family has been friends with Dilip Kumar for the last 30 years, said the legendary actor and his entourage were to leave for Mumbai on Friday. "But such has been the impact of the journey on them that they decided to extend their stay in the holy city by two more days," he said. "They don't feel like leaving Mecca."
Farooqui tweeted about the thespian's pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina and posted interesting pictures on his Twitter account @faisalMouthshut.
Indian Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai met them at the Mecca Hilton on Thursday evening and said one could clearly see happiness writ large on Dilip Kumar's face. "He speaks very little, but one could easily read his radiant face; he seemed very contented."
During their conversation with the consul general, they expressed their interest of coming back to the Kingdom soon. "Dilip Kumar and Saira Bano intend to perform Haj this year. This is their intention and we all should pray for their dream to come true," said Kidwai. "Saira Bano said they don't feel like leaving Mecca and that is the reason why they have extended their stay."
Kidwai kept his men in Mecca on standby for any possible help. "This is their private visit, but it was our duty to extend all help to this great son of our country," he said.
Farooqui echoed the consul general's sentiments. "Let us all pray that they come back to the holy land. We all are truly blessed to accompany them to Mecca and Medina."
Dilip Kumar's entourage included eight of his longtime support staff, including his personal doctor and a cook.
Born on 11 December 1922, in Peshawar, Yousaf Khan joined the film industry in 1944. He is rightly considered as the Subcontinent's first method actor and an inspiration for generations of filmstars.
Yousaf Khan has been an inspiration behind many generations of actors. His dialogue delivery, flawless Urdu and acting abilities have all endeared him to his fellow actors and fans. In his days, he was the king of Indian film industry and his dialogues in the film Mughal-e-Azam — a true love epic — was on the lips of every moviegoer and literature lover.
In one of his famous observations, noted film director Mahesh Bhatt said: "Where would Indian cinema be without his heart-wrenching performances in Mughal-e-Azam? The wells from where we drink water were dug by this giant called Dilip Kumar."