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A House in Pakistan: out of sight, not out of mind

By: Munaza Kazmi

Dilip Kumar, born in Peshawar as Mohammed Yusuf Khan on 11 December 1922, Dilip, his life was as storied as the movies themselves. Migrated to Bombay in the 1930s, leaving behind the family home on a dusty road in Peshawar named Qissa Khwani Bazaar, or Market of Storytellers. He may have left the house when he was only eight, but the Peshawar home was still very special to Dilip. As, in 1988, on a visit to Pakistan, Dilip reportedly fell to his feet and kissed the floor of his childhood home. And over the years, he longed to see the place, even asking people to share images of it on Twitter.

However, due to the enormous love of people and thanks to the Pakistani Government, today that memory of the great actor is restored and turned into a museum commemorating his life.

Dilip Kumar was an icon whose fame spread across India and Pakistan, ‘Tragedy King’ of Bollywood with heart-wrenching performances in films like Devdas, Naya Daur, Madhumati, Mughal-e-Azam and more. At home, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan and then the Padma Vibhushan, across the border, he received Pakistan’s highest civilian award, the Nishan-e-Imtiaz, in 1998, an event that was controversial politically but a validation of art transcending borders.

In December 2020, Government of Pakistan budgeted approximately PK 8 Million to acquire the Dilip’s house for its transformation into the museum. Pakistan’s Director of Archaeology and Museums had mentioned that this move was part of a larger effort to restore Peshawar’s traditional culture, which fell by the wayside due to the war on terror. Moreover, on June 2021, the Deputy Commissioner of Peshawar issued a notification of the transfer of the ownership of the property located in the old city from their current owners to the Archaeology Department. From the 1930’s the house changed several owners, until a few years ago, it was being used as a warehouse, which certainly damaged the property. Rendering this, work needed to begin in order to restore and convert the house into a museum.

Though the restoration work has been completed, however, still a lot needs to be done.

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