The historic ancestral home of late Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor in Pakistan”s Peshawar city is facing demolition threat as the current owner of the house is adamant on building a commercial complex on the site. In 2018, the Pakistan government decided to convert the ‘Kapoor Haveli’ in Qissa Khwani Bazar in Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province into a museum, heeding to a request by Rishi Kapoor who died recently at a hospital in Mumbai.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had assured Rishi Kapoor that the Pakistan government will convert the actor’s house into a museum. The haveli has turned into a ghost building, residents of the area said. Due to its dilapidated condition, the building can collapse anytime, they said.
The state of the building is deteriorating with each passing day due to ecological impacts, torrential rains, earthquakes and wind storms. The haveli is currently owned by Haji Muhammad Israr, a wealthy jeweller in the city. The provincial government wanted to buy the haveli keeping in view its historic importance and conserve it in its original shape for the tourists.
Israr, however, wants to demolish the building and construct a new commercial building at this prime location. He made three/four attempts in the past to demolish the building but could not do it as FIRs were registered against him by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa heritage department. There were reports that the provincial government has failed to convert the building into a museum due to differences with its owner over its price. Israr, the owner of the haveli, has denied that he had any issue with the government over the price of the property, estimated to be over Rs 5 crore.
He said he simply wanted to demolish the haveli and construct a huge commercial market at the site. “I have sufficient money to cater to my needs. I supply around 3 to 4 maund (120kg-160kg) gold a week to the Peshawar biggest jewellery market,” he said.
Local residents fear that the building may automatically collapse unless the government takes timely action to conserve it. “It is a matter of concern that the ”Kapoor Haveli” which we consider as the pride of our city is in dilapidated condition and is fast heading to the disappearance because of being ignored,” said Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, a resident of Dhaki Nalbandi where the palatial house is located.
Mujeeb said that he was a teenager when late Rishi Kapoor and Randhir Kapoor had visited their ancestral home in the early 90s. Shakeel Waheedullah, Secretary Cultural Heritage Council Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, expressed regret over the dilapidated condition of the house.
The ‘Kapoor Haveli’ was built by Basheswarnath Kapoor, the father of Bollywood pioneer Prithviraj Kapoor. The Kapoor family, originally from Peshawar in Pakistan, migrated to India after the partition in 1947.
In 1990, Rishi Kapoor along with brother Randhir Kapoor visited their ancestral home where his grandfather, Prithviraj and his father Raj Kapoor, were born.