Locals welcome restoration of Bollywood legends' homes in Pak

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Peshawar:  Residents of Peshawar have welcomed a move by provincial authorities to declare the ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor in the northwestern Pakistani city as heritage sites, saying speedy action should be taken on the proposal.

Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, announced last week that the homes of both actors in the famous Qissa Khwani Bazar would be acquired by the provincial government and preserved as national heritage sites.

Cultural activists Mohammad Ziauddin, Nadeem Awan, Naeem Ahmad and Waqar Ahmad said the minister's announcement proved that the government was serious about saving cultural sites that were under threat due to the "mad race for modernity and commercialization".

Haji Israr Shah, the current owner of Raj Kapoor's home at Mohalla Dhakki Munawar Shah, told The News daily that he wanted to open a hospital in the four-storey building but would wait to hear about the government's proposal to acquire the house.

Shah said his father had purchased the house in the mid-1980s and that the historical building had a strong and beautiful structure. Built during 1919-21 and spread over 18 'marlas', the Kapoor Haveli is still in good condition due to its strong structure.

Residents of the area said they used the building for events like marriage celebrations. "The house has been empty for about 12 years as its present owners visit it rarely," said local resident and former mayor Abdul Hakim Safi.

Dilip Kumar's ancestral home at Mohalla Khudadad is reportedly still legally owned by his family. It is under threat as several commercial plazas have been built near it.

Cultural activists said they wanted early action by the government to save the house which they described as a national heritage site as it was the birthplace of a living legend of subcontinental cinema.

Cultural activist Nadeem Awan recalled Dilip Kumar's visit to his home during a trip to Pakistan in 1988.

"The media reported that after going around various parts of the house, Dilip Kumar stood beside the stairs, smiled and said he used to keep money in a hole under the stairs," Awan said.

Awan said the residents of Peshawar had great respect for Dilip Kumar and the Kapoor family, and the elderly recalled the days they had spent with the families of these actors.

Dilip Kumar was born as Muhammad Yusuf Khan at Mohalla Khudadad in Qissa Khwani Bazar on December 11, 1922. His father, Lala Ghulam Sarwar, was a fruit merchant who owned orchards in Peshawar and what is now Maharashtra. The family shifted to Mumbai in the late 1920s.

Raj Kapoor, the son of acting legend Prithviraj Kapoor, too was born in Peshawar on December 14, 1924. The actor-director is best known for a string of hit films he made in the 1950s and 1960s.

Peshawar has several other connections with Bollywood. Actors Prem Nath and Vinod Khanna were born in Peshawar while director Surender Kapoor, the father of star Anil Kapoor, and Taj Mohammad, the father of Shah Rukh Khan, owned houses in the city. Some relatives of Shah Rukh Khan still live in the Shah Wali Qataal area of Peshawar.

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