In an effort to strengthen cultural relations with India, the Pakistani government recently declared veteran Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar’s house in Peshawar a national heritage and also plans to invite the legend for the inauguration ceremony.
While speaking to Times of India (TOI), Kumar’s wife Saira Banu said that she and Kumar were eager to make the trip to the newly protected Peshawar home in Qissa Khawani Bazaar.
“We shall go if the occasion arises. Inshallah, it’s a huge honour for Sahab, and he should be there personally. There are so many memories attached with that house,” said an emotional Banu. “It is the highest tribute, and a reward for his work. He was very happy, and his broad smile manifested his gratitude. I could see tears of joy in his eyes,” she said.
The pair has already visited Pakistan twice since Kumar left Peshawar – once on invitation by former President General Zia-ul-Haq, and later to receive the Nishan-e-Pakistan in 1998, Pakistan’s highest civilian honour.
Banu also shared that although claims to the ancestral home have been disputed by caretakers, it is well-visited.
“Every year, his birthday is celebrated in that house by thousands of his well-wishers, and Sahab talks to them on con-call. They also visit us in India with stories from his birthplace. Those are his only connects with his childhood,” added Banu.
Earlier this week, Manzoor Ali Memon, spokesperson of Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, told the TOI over phone that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has declared the ancestral house of the actor in Peshawar’s Qissa Khawani Bazaar as a piece of national heritage. A gallery dedicated to the actor would also be set up.
The move comes as part of a series of steps to pursue better relations with India and lessen the tensions on other fronts.
“It’d be wonderful if our government, too, would acknowledge his contributions,” she said.