Veteran actor Dilip Kumar’s home, which is located in Peshawar’s famous Qissa Khwani Bazaar, is not just another national heritage for Pakistan but tells a different tale altogether. The house, which once stood out in the narrow lanes of Mohallah Khudadad has now fallen apart and is a classic example of Pakistani authorities’ negligence towards their heritage. Unoccupied and uncared for decades, this heritage house has decayed with time. With its ceiling, doors, and walls that have collapsed, the only remnants of this Khyber-Pakhtunkwa national heritage are the main gate and the front wall. The neighbours who were the ardent admirers of this house now use the abandoned building as a dumping site. It has also been used as the storeroom by the neighbouring shopkeepers earlier.
In short, there is now hardly anything left of the house, and as per a report in the Express Tribune, the Pakistani officials say that to restore the house, they will have to build it all over again.
“It’s sad to see the house in ruins,” told Shakil Waheedullah Khan to the Express Tribune. Shakil celebrates Kumar’s birthday every year. “No preservation efforts by any authority have ever been made to keep the house from deterioration, wear and tear,” he said adding that the house has deteriorated so much that it now almost impossible for the Pakistan government to restore it.
Waheedullah started a campaign along with the other elders of the city and demanded the government to purchase the house and declare it a national heritage. Director of Archaeology and Museums, Dr Abdul Samad told The Express Tribune that the authorities will have to completely reconstruct the house. The government official also added that they were doing paperwork and have planned to restore Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar’s houses under the city wall project.
“It would be good if it was restored, but the structure is in such a shabby condition that it cannot be preserved in its original form,” said Samad who is also a part-time archaeologist, adding that though the house has little or no archaeological value, it has a lot of cultural importance due to its links with the legendary actor.
“The house will be restored and kept as a symbol of Dillip Kumar’s birthplace,” he said.
Dilip Kumar, who was born in this house in 1922, is so attached to the place that he even wrote about it in his autobiography Substance and Shadow with a photograph of its gate of the house. His contributions to the Indian cinema did not just stay limited to the country but were also recognised by the neighbouring country. The Government of Pakistan awarded Kumar with Nishan-e-Imtiaz- the country’s highest civilian award in 1998.