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Intricate jharokas still adorn the house

PrintThe ancestral home of legendary Indian actor, Prithviraj Kapoor, is located deep inside Dhaki Nalbandi, in a narrow street called Dhaki Munawar Shah in Peshawar. The family did not have filmi roots and it was on a whim that Prithviraj left Peshawar for Bombay, against his father’s wishes, to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘film star’ at the age of 22, in 1929.

Prithviraj Kapoor as Alexander the Great in Sikandar (1964)

Prithviraj Kapoor as Alexander the Great in Sikandar (1941)

A dynasty is founded… As it turned out, he did more than that; he founded a dynasty, the Kapoor family, popularly called the “first family of Indian cinema”. Prithviraj’s children (Raj, Shammi and Shashi), grandchildren (including Rishi), and great grandchildren (including Karisma, Kareena and Ranbir) have continued Prithviraj’s legacy. Of Prithviraj’s three sons, Raj Kapoor, “The Greatest Showman of Indian Cinema”, was born in this house in 1924; the remaining were born in India.

Crumbled glory… Dhaki Nalbandi was then an upscale area; the Kapoor House was originally built as a five-storey structure, with a basement. Unfortunately, the top two floors have long crumbled; only three storeys and the basement remain, albeit in a precarious condition.

Impressive despite the ravages of time… Despite its dilapidated state, the house exhibits fine craftsmanship, particularly with regard to the jharokas that adorn it. It is owned by a Peshawar-based family, although nobody lives in it anymore. Last year, the local government announced that the house would be converted into a museum, but the plans have yet to materialise.

Historical landmarks and frenzied bazaars… The area surrounding the Kapoor house is dotted with historical landmarks; these include Bala Hissar Fort, Lady Reading Hospital and Mohabbat Khan Mosque. Some of Peshawar’s largest bazaars are nearby, including Sarafa Bazaar (a gold market) and Qissa Khwani Bazaar (Market of Storytellers), an intricate maze of shops famous for their fabric and food. For some scrumptious peshawari tikka, head to Namak Mandi, which is also famous for its gemstone market.

In a nutshell… Peshawar clearly has strong ties with Bollywood. It wasn’t just the Kapoors who lived there, but also veteran actor Dilip Kumar as well as the fathers of Shahrukh Khan and Madhubala, the Venus of Hindi cinema.

– Amjad Afridi

Photos: Asif Saeed

 First published in the Real Estate Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on April 28, 2013.