Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar's decaying ancestral mansions are being brought to life in Peshawar

Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar's decaying ancestral mansions are being brought to life in Peshawar

“We felt proud and held our heads high while watching actors from Peshawar perform in Indian movies," said an 80-year-old resident
14 Nov, 2020

Tucked away near the centuries-old Storytellers' Bazaar, the decaying mansions in Peshawar once home to Bollywood superstars are being brought back to life.

The ancestral homes of Golden Age heroes Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in the northwestern city are symbols of its link to the world's largest film industry, but have suffered from decades of neglect.

The region's archaeology team says it is close to wresting the more than 100-year-old buildings, located in the heart of the historic walled city, from their private owners so they can be restored and turned into museums.

“I always feel sad and angry while looking at Kapoor's house, that it once was a beautiful mansion of top quality,” said Samiuddin Khan, who remembers running through the 40-room abandoned house as a child and flying kites from the rooftop.

“It was extremely beautiful inside. The structure is still intact but some walls have collapsed and much of the wood has been damaged.” Once an architectural wonder, the family home of Kapoor, who died aged 63 in 1988, is influenced by Mughal empire, Central Asian and British colonial design, featuring ornately carved doors and balconies and gothic-style windows.

Kumar lived in a simpler home down a small lane in a busy market, its entrance faded and its roofless interior heavily damaged.

The actors grew up in a quarter that is home to the fabled Qissa Khwani (Storytellers) Bazaar where travellers would share tales of their adventures.

Kumar, who is now 97, has credited his successful career to his early life in the neighbourhood, where he first learned to narrate.

But like many emerging actors, the pair were enticed away from Peshawar to India's entertainment centre Bombay, now Mumbai, in the years before the partition.

The pair even starred alongside each other at the beginning of their careers, in the 1949 hit Andaz.

“This is our cultural heritage and we take pride in preserving it. We are very proud that Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor were from Peshawar,” said Abdul Samad, director of archaeology and museums in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

Present-day Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan, known as the King of Bollywood, also has links to the area but his family home which is still in use has not suffered the same decline.

Across the country, hundreds of pre-partition buildings have been left to ruin or been demolished over the years.

Many had been built by Hindus and Sikhs who left them behind when they fled newly founded Pakistan for India, archaeology experts say.

Peshawar suffered a huge knock-back to its cultural standing after becoming a hotbed of violence from the 1980s onwards, bringing an end to the golden era of Pashto-language cinema in the region, known as Pollywood.

Militant groups, including Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, bombed at least three cinemas and more than 100 music shops before a military crackdown near the border with Afghanistan in 2015 resulted in drastic improvements in security.

As the city revives, more than 1,800 heritage buildings with traditional features have been identified for preservation by the province's archaeology team, but Pakistan could need years to arrange the finances required to their purchase and restoration.

“If a proper archaeological survey was conducted, we would discover a cultural site almost every kilometre,” said archaeological director Samad about Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

There are hurdles still to overcome in saving the Kapoor mansion too.

Its owner Hajji Ali Qadir told AFP he would take the authorities to court if they did not pay him at least two billion rupees ($12.5 million).

“I told them that it's an antique and the price for an antique is multiplied 10 times,” he said. “We will get more money if we build a plaza here.” The archaeology department has said it will use legal powers if needed to purchase the Kapoor and Kumar homes with taxpayer money, for a figure still to be determined by the province's financial authorities.

“We felt proud and held our heads high while watching the actors from Peshawar performing in Indian movies, that this land has produced such great actors who proved their worth in Mumbai,” Khalo Khalil Sarhadi, an 80-year-old resident of Peshawar, told AFP.

“Now the new generation will know how Peshawar has produced big stars and actors, those who have given an identity to Pakistan and India,” he said of the museum projects.


Patriot Nov 14, 2020 11:22am
Raj Kapoor children and grandchildren are very rich can send money for restoration and preservation.Dilip Kumar and his wife are also rich to sponsor money.Why tax payer money should be wasted for this which can be used for poor.
Anonymouseee Nov 14, 2020 11:26am
These residents should be transformed into schools or hospitals.
Shah Nov 14, 2020 12:17pm
Was consent taken and do they own the deeds?
Haris Nov 14, 2020 12:29pm
@Patriot tax payer money is not wasted but invested to save and rebuild cultural sites. Once restored these sites turned museum would attract visitors and eventually generate wealth in the region. This is an art of economy. "Hum atta daal sey aagay soochain tou taraqqi hoo"
Surya Kant Nov 14, 2020 12:30pm
You see we give huge respect to whosoever he may be . Once Indian always an Indian
Haris Nov 14, 2020 12:31pm
@Anonymouseee there are ample of space elsewhere which could be used for schools and hospitals. Why are you after these sites only.
JustSaying Nov 14, 2020 12:46pm
@Anonymouseee "These residents should be transformed into schools or hospitals...." Good Thought.... Serves a Noble Cause....and also the Memory....
NYS Nov 14, 2020 12:50pm
@Patriot cent percent agree to you
Dr Vikas Jamwal Nov 14, 2020 12:54pm
Why they left Pakistan?
M. Emad Nov 14, 2020 12:59pm
Decaying mansions in Peshawar.
vin Nov 14, 2020 01:27pm
@Patriot They may not be interested. They don't have that much association now. Also, that is against enemy properties laws of both countries. By that logic, all migrants during partition to India should send money to upkeep their houses in Pakistan.
Chrís Dăn Nov 14, 2020 01:28pm
@Patriot ,it is our cultural heritage and we are ready to sve it period.
kp Nov 14, 2020 02:01pm
@Patriot To do what? They will pump up money and will to utilized by occupiers?
Imran Nov 14, 2020 02:12pm
@Patriot what is the need for restoration? They were just actors and no contribution to society.
Imran Nov 14, 2020 02:13pm
@Anonymouseee, agree. Use it for any good cause.
Bipul Nov 14, 2020 02:19pm
Restoration being done by land sharks.
Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Nov 14, 2020 02:20pm
Great news for the families, friends, fans, peers, pals, associates, colleagues, classmates, supporters, sponsors, clan, community and neighborhood members of the two world re-known sons of the centuries old and historic city of Peshawar, Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
M. Saeed Nov 14, 2020 02:21pm
There are several Indian actors who have their roots in Pakistan or were born in Pakistan. A few were: Sanjay Dutt , Shah Rukh Khan, Dev Anand, Prem Chopra, Vivek Oberoi, Sadhana Shivdasani, Hrithik Roshan, Shashi Kapoor,Dilip Kumar, Govinda, Amrish Puri, Gulzar, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajesh Khanna etc.
S. Chatterjee Nov 14, 2020 02:37pm
Nice to know about these two buildings. Both Kapoor and Dilip Kumar families are famous in the world because of their meticulous acting. I feel these two buildings should be renovated and used as museum as heritage buildings.
M. Emad Nov 14, 2020 03:35pm
Why these actors fled Peshawar/ Pakistan ?
Akram Nov 14, 2020 04:48pm
@M. Emad . These people left Peshawer before 1947 because the film industry was in Bombay.
Dan Nov 14, 2020 05:13pm
@M. Saeed not Rajesh khanna
Abdul Baloch Nov 14, 2020 05:15pm
But why???? - Why can't we spend this money on Govt operated schools in this city?
Venkat Nov 14, 2020 05:28pm
@Haris Instead Sharada Peet which is holy place for Hindus all over world can be opened like Kartarpur and Hindus will pour money to develop that area which can generate much employment and economy for locals. Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar family should volunteer to donate for reconstruction and maintanance of their ancestor homes.
yusuf Nov 14, 2020 05:33pm
@Patriot - Excellent point!!
Arzoo Nov 14, 2020 05:42pm
Dilip Kumar is a legend. His acting is the best and yet to be surpassed by anybody. Raj Kapoor was also a great actor. Their houses should be converted into an inspirational museum. World should know how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary status with handwork, talent and some luck.
Ss Nov 14, 2020 05:45pm
A most welcome development. Long overdue
Chrís Dăn Nov 14, 2020 06:01pm
@Dr Vikas Jamwal to become Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor which Pakistan could nt offer them.
Chrís Dăn Nov 14, 2020 06:02pm
@M. Saeed sub continent is one.
Raja Nov 14, 2020 06:24pm
@M. Saeed , it was Hindustan at that time
Fast comment Nov 14, 2020 08:02pm
Today the transfer technology of full built up building or houses is known to all. Ask the legend families to take all the stuff to India and rebuild it there. No tantrums.
RationalBabu Nov 14, 2020 08:15pm
@Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad ...oh dear!
RationalBabu Nov 14, 2020 08:17pm
@Chrís Dăn unfortunately or fortunately it’s not one anymore!
well-wisher Nov 14, 2020 08:38pm
What will the museum show when there is nothing of memorable value left behind. Does anyone know where the actors bedrooms were or how the buildings were used by them? Don't waste scarce resources. The actors stayed in India and their homes could also become museums but with furniture etc. AND talk out this guy who wants billion + rupees! Be wise.
THE MORNING STAR, MD. Nov 14, 2020 09:19pm
Tax payer money can be used to turn this into a proper commercially viable enterprise.
k k tiwari Nov 15, 2020 12:03am
@Patriot they will never visit and dont expect a single penny .convert in school or hospital
Reality bites Nov 15, 2020 06:48am
Ask govt of India if they want to buy these properties. They may offer a good price.
BS Chauhan Nov 15, 2020 07:12am
This shows how India gave opportunities to these legends to become rich and famous.
Khoobree Nov 15, 2020 09:28am
@Patriot rofl, they dont care n wont be coming to peshawar, they are legends and Pehawars sons and our heritage..
Chrís Dăn Nov 15, 2020 12:36pm
@Imran artists through art make an ever living contribution.
Raghubir Nov 15, 2020 01:08pm
@Haris Well said. Thanks.
Cactus Nov 15, 2020 01:28pm
Finally some sign of life in Governance
Venkat Nov 15, 2020 02:43pm
@well-wisher Nobody visits them in India. Even if some visitor comes from village their security throw them away.
Idris Nov 15, 2020 04:04pm
Waste of money Instead feed The poor
Me Nov 15, 2020 09:27pm
@Patriot correct. Dilip Kumar is now remembering his home at this age
Syed Rafiq Nov 16, 2020 01:54am
The properties of two Indian actors are important, while Wazir Mansion (Quaid's birthplace) is in decline!
ajay Nov 16, 2020 07:28pm
@Patriot yes i am an indian but agree with you brother.