PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has approved Rs24 million funds for the purchase of the decaying ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in the walled city of Peshawar.
The provincial directorate of archeology and museums had decided in Sept last year to transfer the ownership of two houses to itself through a colonial era legislation, which allows the government to acquire lands for ‘public use’.
The government has planned to turn both properties into museums after restoration.
A senior official told Dawn that Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had approved a summary moved by the culture, tourism and archeology department seeking a special grant of Rs24 million for the acquisition of both properties.
The summary said the ancestral homes of Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar were located in the old Peshawar city and the department had been considering proposals for their restoration for ‘adaptive use and public display due to their archeological, aesthetic and historical value along with the reason of their link with the international celebrities.
It said recently, the directorate of archeology was tasked with ascertaining the financial implications of the acquisition of land of those houses along with the cost of superstructure.
Govt plans to turn decaying properties into museums after restoration
“Deputy Commissioner Peshawar has already imposed Section 4 for acquisition of both houses. Now, the directorate has intimated that for acquisition of these two ancient houses, the total cost is Rs24 million,” it said.
The summary said of the cost, Rs15 million was for the acquisition of Raj Kapoor’s over six marlas house in Dhaki Dalgaran area of the famed Qissa Khwani Bazaar, and Rs8 million for Dilip Kumar’s four marlas residence in Mohallah Khudadad neighbourhood of the same street.
It said Rs24 million was worth spending due to the importance and value of the two houses both at national and international levels.
“The step (or plan) of restoration of these houses was received very positively on various medium of communication at both national and international levels and therefore, it would not be out of place to expedite the process of such acquisition followed by their restoration,” it said.
The Awami National Party government had tried to acquire Dilip Kumar’s ancestral house for preservation. However, the price dispute hampered the bid. It led to litigation during the last Pervez Khattak-led government.
In Oct 2015, the provincial government had informed the Peshawar High Court that it had dropped the plan of acquiring the house but declared it a protected antiquity stopping the owner from renovating it or making changes to it.
In 2016, Raj Kapoor’s ancestral home was badly damaged by its current owner during demolition, which came to a halt after the intervention of the archaeology directorate. However, the exercise destroyed the upper portion of the house and badly damaged rest of it.
Following reports of the government’s decision to acquire both properties, a statement was posted to Dilip Kumar’s Twitter account wherein the thespian rekindled his faded memories of the Qissa Khwani Bazaar.
“I am at once full of fond remembrances of my parents, grandparents and numerous uncles, aunts and cousins who filled the house with the sounds of their chatter and hearty laughter.
“My mother who was frail and delicate was always in the spacious kitchen of the house and as a little boy I would wait for her to finish her chores so that I could just sit by her side and gaze at her beautiful face,” he said.
The Bollywood legend also said he had memories of the sitting room, where his family gathered for tea in evenings, the large room, where women prayed, and the terrace, bedrooms and all other things.
“I can vividly recall the piggy rides on my grandfather’s back and the scary stories my grandmother cooked up to forbid me from wandering out of the house alone. I have lovely memories of Qissa Khwani Bazaar, where I received my first lessons in storytelling, which later provided the impetus to choose meaty stories and scripts for my work,” he said in the post.
Published in Dawn, January 3rd, 2021