The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has decided to buy and restore the houses of Bollywood icons Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor, according to a report in BBC Urdu.
Kapoor and Kumar, both going on to become leading actors of their generation and captivating the attention of millions throughout the subcontinent, migrated from Peshawar to India after the British left the area for good.
Both actors were born and raised in the city’s famous Qissa Khwani (Street of Storytellers) area before they moved on to Mumbai to become acting greats. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan also has connection to Peshawar.
While Kapoor broke the hearts of millions when he passed away in 1988, Kumar is still alive and lives with his wife Saira Banu in Mumbai.
The KP government, according to BBC Urdu, plans to acquire an estimated 1,800 buildings over 100 years old and restore them.
Director of Archaeology and Museums Dr Abdus Sama said the main aim behind the move was to restore the traditional culture of Peshawar which fell wayside due to the war on terror, adding that work on a couple of buildings had already begun.
The homes of Kapoor and Kumar are now in the hands of private owners. Officials are of the view that since three great superstars of Bollywood hail from Peshawar, it makes sense for the city to have a Bollywood museum.
“And that’s exactly what they are planning – they want to turn the mansions, both more than a 100 years old, into museums which will house memorabilia on the respective actors, including Shah Rukh Khan,” read the publication.
However, officials will have their work cut out for them as both mansions, more than 100 years old, are badly in need of renovation. The Kapoor mansion is falling apart with its arched windows and protruding balconies.
Kumar’s house isn’t exactly in great shape either. The house is now cramped into a tight alley and bears a shabby appearance with its woodwork cracked and covered in webs.
The houses and their stories
Deewan Basheswarnath, Raj Kapoor’s grandfather, built the home between 1918-1922. He was a police officer in British India, originally from what is today Faisalabad in Pakistan. However, he remained posted in Peshawar for quite some time.
Prithviraj Kapoor, Basheswarnath’s son, was one of Hindi cinema’s first big stars. After making a name for himself in local plays, he moved on to Mumbai in the late 1920s for greener pastures.
Raj Kapoor was born on 14 December 1924 in the same house. Shakeel Waheedullah, head of the Cultural Heritage Council of Peshawar, said the family of the legendary actor returned to the house a few times before partition to sell it.
The heritage group said it had saved the house from being demolished by a jeweller who wanted to destroy it and build a shopping mall in its place.
“The building still lost its top two storeys, and the owner faced arrest when the provincial archaeology department stepped in to halt the demolition,” said Waheedullah.
Kapoor’s sons, Rishi and Randhir, both visited the house in 1990. When he died this year, people in Peshawar lit candles and mourned his passing.
Unknown to many, Dilip Kumar was born Muhammed Yusuf Khan in 1911. His house was built by his father, who was a fruit merchant. Waheedullah said that financial losses forced his father to migrate to Mumbai where the family looked to accomplish more.
Kumar’s father sold his house in Peshawar in 1930 for a sum of 5,000 rupees. Since then, it has been sold various times and is currently being used as a warehouse.