By Adeel Saeed
The crumpling of century old ancestral house of legendary Bollywood star, Dilip Kumar (Yousaf Khan) has sent a wave of shock and distress among his admirers and cinema buffs besides reflecting apathy of the quarters concerned in conservation of the structure.
A visit to Mohalla Khuda Dad in interior city near Qissa Khawani Peshawar revealed that the upper portion of the house caved in, need proper reconstruction. The house was already in a very dilapidated condition for the last several years and finally collapsed leaving only the front portion and gate undamaged. The inner portion of the house was fully caved in and required full reconstruction.
It is pertinent to mention here that several super starts of Bollywood including Dilip Kumar, Kapoors, Anil Kapoor, Shah Rukh Khan and late Vinood Khana belonged to Peshawar and their ancestral houses still exist in the city.
Dilip Kumar was born in 1922 at Mohalla Khuda Dad and in his teens he went to India to become a cinema star. He soon shot to heights of prominence due to his excellent performance and attractive looks. Apart from Dilip Kumar, Kapoors, Vinood Khana and Shah Rush Khan also become celebrities and heartthrobs for millions of people across the globe.
The contribution of Dilip Kumar for cinema world was also recognized by the Government of Pakistan and in 1998 he was awarded Nisha-e-Imtiaz, the highest civilian award of the country. The collapse of Dilip Kumar’s house was deplored by people from different sections of the society who wanted forthwith reconstruction of the structure.
President Cultural Journalist Forum Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Ehtesham Toru said it that was very ironical that the ancestral house of Dilip Kumar was not saved from destruction. He said no practical step was taken by the KP government despite of the fact the house was in dilapidated condition from a long time and awaiting the attention of the authorities concerned.
Ehtesham recalled that in 2014, the house was declared as national heritage by the KP Archeology Department. The decision was also appreciated by Dilip Kumar, he added. General Secretary, Cultural Heritage Council, Shakeel Waheedullah said he drew the attention of the KP government several times towards the ramshackle condition of the house and submitted six applications during the last couple of years.
Shakeel said it seemed that conservation of the belongings of Bollywood stars, who had roots in Peshawar, was not the priority of the quarters concerned in KP. He said Saira Bano, wife of Dilip Kumar was also contacted and apprised about this sad development. “Saira Bano becomes dejected after knowing about the collapse of the ancestral house of her husband,” Shakeel Waheedullah added.
Shakeel said Dilip extended full cooperation to PTI Chief, Imran Khan in his efforts for constructing Shaukat Khanan Memorial Hospital and visited Lahore along with other Bollywood actors and collected donations for the cause. When Deputy Director Culture KP, Shabaz Khan contacted, he said conservation of any structure was the responsibility of the Archeology Department.
“If there had any intangible cultural heritage within the premises of the house, the cultural department would have played its role,” Shabaz said. Director Archeology and Museums, Dr. Abdul Samad when contacted, he said that the house structure was in shambles, and according to engineers, it could not be conserved.
“The only way to conserve this house was to reconstruct it as the structure was irreparable,” Samad told Pakistan Perspectives. He said the Archeology Department had to demolish the structure for its reconstruction and “caving in was in fact a blessing in disguise”. He said the department would soon start working for construction of a replica of Dilip Kumar house under the KP Antiquities Act 2016. The house, Samad said, was in ownership of someone and conservation efforts were halted due to litigation. The new law authorizes Archeology Department to carry conservation or reconstruction work at any ancient site without getting its ownership, Samad informed.
“We have launched a project to document all the historical and ancient places within the Walled City of Peshawar and under the same project, the replica of Dilip Kumar House would be reconstructed soon,” Samad added.