Dilip Kumar with his wife actress Saira Banu. Image Credit: PTI

Bollywood thespian Dilip Kumar and his wife Saira Banu have filed a legal notice against Mumbai builder Sameer N Bhojwani, alleging “continuous harassment and a well-planned conspiracy to take over the only property” the couple has in Mumbai.

The defamation notice has been served in response to a Public Notice published in the Mumbai media through Bhojwani’s lawyer, Digvijay Singh, after which the celebrity couple said “they fear for their lives.”

“It is disheartening to go through such a tumultuous phase at this age. They property rightfully belongs to Yusuf Khan saheb [Kumar’s real name]. We neither have the support nor the strength to go through this continuous harassment by Sameer Bhojwani, whose only focus seems to usurping our land,” Banu said.

She said the couple has already approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis seeking their help.

“The CM saheb has been repeatedly saying he will help us and after the builder comes out of jail, he would do the needful. But it is three months now since the builder is out and nothing has moved from the CM’s side. There is no reaction even from the PM’s side. We hope they do something soon,” Banu said.

The couple’s lawyer, Chirag Shah, pointed out that Bhojwani was arrested in this matter last year for making false documents, and a police report to this effect was submitted to a city court.

Banu said it was a sad state of affairs that a celebrity such as Kumar, who was once the Sheriff of Mumbai (1980) and its First Citizen, has to undergo this torture while ill and virtually bed-ridden.

“If this is the fate a person like Yusuf saheb, awarded the Padma Vibhushan [second-highest civilian award in India] and who is synonymous with acting in India, and has to undergo all this, imagine the plight of a commoner,” Banu added.

Shah said that taking advantage of the couple’s old age (96/74), Bhojwani has hatched a “well-planned conspiracy” with the intention of “grabbing” the prime property, a dilapidated two-storey bungalow in the posh Pali Hill neighbourhood of suburban Bandra, to construct a multi-storey building.

“The builder wants to throw out the couple claiming that his father purchased the property in 1980 for a mere Rs25,000 [Dh1,318]. However, the Property Card of the plot clearly mentions the sale deed agreement of the plot dated September 25, 1953, for Rs140,000, in the name of Dilip Kumar ji. The property still stands in his name as per the Property Card,” Shah said.

Shah claimed that in collusion with officials of the Registration Office, Bhojwani allegedly got a Deed of Confirmation registered claiming his father, who died in 2002, had bought the property from Dilip Kumar in 1980.

Since Kumar’s iconic bungalow, No 16 on a 1,600 square metre plot, was in a dilapidated state, he moved to his wife’s bungalow No 34 in the same area in 2003.

Banu has already announced that she will build a museum in honour of Kumar at the No 16 site, which is the subject matter of a controversy for several years.