Memorable visit to homes of Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh
India may have lost the one-dayer at Peshawar but what would remain indelible in the mind of a visiting sports journalist like me is the trip to the ancestral homes of Indian films legends Prithviraj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Shah Rukh Khan.
By Qaiser Mohammad Ali, IANS
It was my first visit to Peshawar, and I left the dusty town overwhelmed by the large-hearted hospitality accorded to Indians by the Pushto-speaking Pathans.
During a chat with the owner of the North West Heritage Hotel, Asif Ashraf Khan, he mentioned that Bollywood greats Kapoor, Dilip and Shah Rukh had their ancestral homes close to the hotel where I stayed.
I decided to visit the three houses as my flight to Lahore was only on Saturday afternoon. I took a three-wheeler auto-rickshaw - they call it just rickshaw in Pakistan - and headed for the maze of lanes and by-lanes that so much resemble those in old Delhi.
My first stop was the Qasba Khwani area, where Dilip Kumar - original name Yusuf Khan - lived as a child and went to a madrassa, where usually religious education is imparted.
The first man whom I asked for Dilip Kumar's address, a bearded Mohammed Tariq, never left me, saying I was his "guest" and he took me to the ancestral homes of all three celebrities.
Dilip Kumar's original home is a three-storey dilapidated building that has withstood the vagaries of nature. A huge wooden, old-fashioned door welcomes you in a house that appeared big from the narrow by-lane.
But since no male member of the thespian's family was available, one could not speak to any of Dilip Kumar's relatives.
Syed Akbar, who was working in the adjacent flour shop, told me - in Pushto through Tariq - that "about two years ago he had met Dilip saheb when he had come to visit his home."
Tariq then took me to a nearby madrassa, Anjuman Himayat-ul-Islam, founded in 1890, where Dilip Kumar went for his early education, before migrating to India.
The madrassa's name has since changed to Government Middle School, and school principal Mahmood Shah Mohmand, a bearded, tall and handsome
personality, ordered some hot pakoras and tea as soon I reached his office.
Another bearded man, a school employee, offered to scan the registers to find the year in which Dilip Kumar studied in the madarsa, but after a while he returned saying that only the particulars of students who attended it after 1947 were maintained.
But the principal assured me that every student knows Dilip Kumar and follows Indian films and knows the names of actors and actresses "through
VCRs and video cassettes."
Habib Nur, a student of standard Class 11, blurted out names of latest Indian films and actors, said: "I like Mumbai, and please write that when you
mention about my school."
The principal also said that Dilip Kumar had visited the school in 1988 in connection with a blood donation event organised by an NGO. "He donated Rs. 200,000 to the school, my predecessor who was principal then had told me," he said.
Tariq then took me to another by-lane, Shauli Qatal Street, where stands the original home of Shah Rukh's late father Taj Mohammed. He introduced me to the actor's nephew Maqsood Ahmed, a bamboo merchant.
Shah Rukh's home is quite similar to Dilip Kumar's, the only difference being that the main door was painted green. Maqsood said that Shah Rukh's father had graduated from the city's Edwards College.
"He then migrated to India disguised as a Hindu," said Maqsood, over kahwa, the famous green, Peshawari tea that he ordered for me and others. "Shah Rukh visited Peshawar in 1980 with his sister. Now we are hardly in touch with
We then went to lane Dhakinal Bandi, where the age-old family home of the Kapoors still stands erect, though it was clear that no one has bothered to get it repaired.
After the Kapoors fled to Mumbai at the time of partition in 1947, locals took over the huge three-storey building.
The building now houses a factory where handbags are made. The owner of the house, who has rented out all three floors to the factory, was not available to tell more about the one of the best known families in Indian cinema.
"Shashi Kapoor (son of Prithviraj) tried visiting his home a few years ago, but so many people gathered around him that he had to return without seeing his house," said Asif.