Raj Kapoor’s haveli in Pakistan’s Peshawar is facing demolition

  • Imtiaz Ahmed, Hindustan Times, Islamabad
  • Updated: Jan 16, 2016 14:01 IST
The Kapoor Haveli at Dhaki Munawar Shah, Peshawar, Pakistan. (Twitter)

The ancestral home of legendary Bollywood filmstar Raj Kapoor in Pakistan’s Peshawar will soon be a part of history after the provincial government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa failed to come up with a plan to save it.

The News, a local daily, said that the demolition of the historic Kapoor Haveli, which is the birth place of Raj Kapoor and several others, has started. The roof of the 98-year-old house was pulled down on Thursday.

The multi-storied house, located in Dhakki Munawwar Shah near the famous Qissa Khwani bazaar in the city, originally had six storeys and several rooms. Its front is adorned with exquisite floral motifs and jharokhas.

The provincial administration had earlier tried to buy the house from its present owners and wanted to convert it into a museum but the plan could not come through after price became an issue.

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“We negotiated with the owners of the building but there were many issues that did not let us go through with a deal,” senior minister Shahram Khan said.

To make matters more complicated, an ownership dispute over the house also prevented a deal with the government, say observers. However, some say that the provincial government could have worked harder to put together a deal.

Shahid Shamim, a local journalist, said that some progress was made with regards the purchase of the property in the past but officials showed disinterest and that is why the owners ran out of options.

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“They will be building a shopping plaza or a small hotel here,” Shamim said.

The News reported that the house is being pulled down bit by bit in order to escape any action by the relevant government departments. The top three storeys were demolished some two decades ago on the pretext of weak structure.

The historic house was constructed by Dewan Basheshwarnath Kapoor, father of Prithviraj Kapoor and grandfather of Raj Kapoor in 1918. Among the notable members of the family Trilok Kapoor, Prithiviraj’s younger brother, and Raj Kapoor were born there.

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Raj Kapoor was born in the haveli on December 14, 1924. Two of his younger siblings, who died early in 1931, were also born here. His brothers Shammi Kapoor and Shashi Kapoor were born in India, but they have visited and lived at the mansion in the past.

After the partition in 1947, the remaining members of the family left country and later the ownership of house changed hands. Though the Kapoor family relocated to Mumbai and flourished there, they visited their family home in Peshawar from time to time.

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Raj Kapoor’s younger brother Shashi Kapoor and his sons, Randhir Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor, visited their family home in 1990. The locals gave them a rousing welcome. They took some soil from the compound of the house to remember the heritage. Former mayor of Peshawar, late Saeed Ahmad Jan, had played host to them.

In 2013, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had declared the ancestral house of Bollywood’s another great actor Dilip Kumar as national heritage. His house also stands in the same locality as the Kapoor Haveli in Qissa Khwani bazaar.

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