PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has decided to buy and restore the houses of Bollywood legend actors Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor. Both actors were born and raised in Peshawars famous Qissa Khwani area before they moved on to Mumbai to become acting greats.
According to the Director Achearlogy and Museums, Abdul Samad, the government has decided to buy the houses of Bollywood icons and in this regard, a letter has been sent to the deputy commissioner Peshawar.
The value of both houses would be determined after the imposition of section 4. The houses, in the first phase, would be restored to their original position and after reconstruction, they will be transformed as museums, Mr. Samad said. The move is part of efforts to restore Peshawars traditional culture. These historic buildings are in dilapidated condition and facing demolition threat.
The Department of Archaeology in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to allocate sufficient funds for purchasing the two buildings, which have been declared as the national heritage and lie in the heart of Peshawar city, an official said.
An official letter has been sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar to determine the cost of both the historic buildings, where the two greats of Indian cinema were born and raised in their early days before the partition, said Dr Abdus Samad Khan, the head of department of archaeology.
Raj Kapoor’s ancestral home, known as Kapoor Haveli, is situated in the fabled Qissa Khwani Bazar. It was built between 1918 and 1922 by the legendary actor’s grandfather Dewan Basheswarnath Kapoor. Raj Kapoor and his uncle Trilok Kapoor were born in the building. It has been declared national heritage by the provincial government.
Veteran actor Dilip Kumar’s over 100-year-old ancestral house is also located in the same locality. The house is in shambles and was declared as national heritage in 2014 by the then Nawaz Sharif government.
Khan said the owners of the two buildings made many attempts in the past to demolish them for constructing commercial plazas in view of their prime location but all such moves were stopped as the archaeology department wanted to preserve them keeping in view their historic importance.
However, the owner of Kapoor Haveli, Ali Qadar, said that he did not want to demolish the building and made many contacts with the archaeology department officials to protect and preserve this historic structure which is a national pride.
The owner has demanded Rs 200 crore from the KP government to sell it out to the government. In 2018, the Pakistan government decided to convert the Kapoor Haveli into a museum, heeding to a request by Rishi Kapoor who died this year in Mumbai. However, the announcement to this effect could not be materialised despite a lapse of around two years.
There are around 1,800 historic structures in Peshawar which are over 300 years old.
Saira Bano’s reaction
Legendary Dilip Kumar’s wife, Saira Banu, heaped immense praise on Pakistan for its efforts in preserving actor’s ancestral home in Peshawar. Upon learning of Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa government’s decision to purchase the houses of Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor for preservation, Banu said, “Mashallah.”
In a chat with Times of India, she shared, “I wish the provincial government success in its efforts and sincerely hope that this time the dream comes true. Mashallah.”
She went on to add, “My heart fills up with joy each time I receive the same news about the ancestral home of Yousuf Saheb in Peshawar in North West Frontier province which the provincial government has been repeatedly trying to turn into a monument for posterity.
“It has come up so many times in the past and I have appreciated the tenacity with which the government is pursuing the mission of turning the house into a museum for the public to visit and feel the vintage charm of the house where Dilip Saheb grew up like any bright boy of the province,” Banu added.
The actor’s wife went on to reveal that they visited Dilip Kumar’s ancestral home, situated in Peshawar’s Qissa Khwani bazaar area, some years ago. Dilip Kumar became emotional as he recalled his childhood memories, she added.
Meanwhile, the owner of the haveli has reportedly asked for Rs200 crore to sell the historic building to the KP government.