Bollywood icon Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu delighted a group of their Pakistani fans who gathered in Peshawar, his birth place, on Tuesday to celebrate the thespian's 90th birthday by speaking to them on phone.
In his brief remarks, Kumar conveyed his "salams" to the people who gathered at the Peshawar Press Club to celebrate his birthday.
The actor was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan in Peshawar on December 11, 1922. The son of prosperous fruit merchant Lala Ghulam Sarwar, the silver screen icon spent several years of his childhood in a house near the famous Qissa Khwani Bazar or "Market of Storytellers," where travellers and traders from across Central Asia gathered to swap tales.
Banu, who also addressed the gathering, asked people to pray for her husband's health. She reminisced about her visit to Peshawar with Kumar in 1988.
"This is Saira Banu Yusuf Khan speaking and I convey my salams to all the persons who have gathered there for this event. I'm remembering my visit to Peshawar with Yusuf sab. I remember the alleys of Qissa Khwani Bazar and the visit to Yusuf sab's home," she said.
"The images are being refreshed in my mind. I wish we could visit there again and experience all those things again," Banu said on the phone from Mumbai.
Pakistani TV news channels reported extensively on the birthday celebration organised in Peshawar by the local chapter of the Cultural Heritage Council.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain cut a cake that was inscribed "Legend Dilip Kumar 90th Birthday 11 Dec 2012."
The celebration was attended by members of the Pashto film industry, journalists and political leaders.
"Pakistan, particularly the residents of Peshawar, love Dilip Kumar for being a great human being," Hussain told the gathering. He said efforts were continuing to remove obstacles holding up the acquisition of Kumar's ancestral home so that it could be declared a national heritage site.
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government's plan to acquire Kumar's ancestral home and preserve it ran into problems earlier this year after several persons laid claim to the property.
After authorities said they would pay Rs 30 million for the dilapidated home, several persons emerged to claim ownership.