PESHAWAR: Hours after the death of legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar in India on Wednesday, condolences poured in from his city of birth, Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan where residents mourned a “great loss” to the region’s film industry and at least two dozen people gathered outside the star's former residence to offer funeral prayers in absentia.
Born as Mohammed Yusuf Khan in Peshawar in Pakistan's present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on December 11, 1922, Kumar died in Mumbai after prolonged illness at the age of 98. He has been hailed as a “tragedy king” by a generation of cinema-goers for his soulful roles on the silver screen, and is widely considered one of the greatest actors in the history of Hindi cinema.
Kamran Bangash, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s information minister, expressed sorrow over the actor's passing in a video message and said Kumar had a "matchless" love for his city of birth.
“The people of Peshawar are praying for him and will never forget his services,” Bangash said. “The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa administration will build an open museum at his house in Mohala Khudadad in Peshawar to ensure that the bond between Peshawar and Yousaf Khan remains alive forever.”
Earlier this year, the provincial administration had approved a budget to buy the dilapidated ancestral homes of Bollywood legends Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor and turn them into museums. The two houses are located in Qissa Khwani Bazaar, Peshawar's oldest and famous “market of storytellers.”
The families of the two stars moved to present-day India before Pakistan came into being in August 1947.
The current owner of Kumar’s house was planning to demolish it to build a commercial center but the archaeology department stopped the process last September, citing the Antiquity Act 2016, which prompted the late Indian actor to turn to Twitter and request the residents of Peshawar to share photographs of his former residence.
“Peshawar will miss its legendary son Yousaf Khan,” Dr. Abdul Samad, director of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Archaeology and Museums Department, told Arab News. “He played a pivotal role in bringing Bollywood to its climax through a lifetime of contributions.”
Asmat Shah, a senior journalist, said the people of Peshawar had received the news of Kumar’s death with “great grief.”
“Dilip Kumar and Peshawar are inseparable since the former had once lived here,” he said. “People in the crowded localities of this city have always held the Bollywood legend in great esteem.”
Jalil Ahmad, a local who lives close to Kumar’s former house in Peshawar, told Arab News the people of the congested Qissa Khwani locality were deeply grieved to learn about Kumar’s death.
“I saw people at tea stalls who were only discussing Dilip Kumar this morning,” he said. “We have all been praying for his departed soul and are eager to visit his residence in Peshawar once it is turned into a museum.”
Ahmed paused and said: “This will keep him alive in our hearts forever.”
At least two dozen residents of Kumar’s former neighborhood gathered for funeral prayers in absentia outside his home and also lit candles in remembrance.
“We offered funeral prayers in absentia for the late Kumar whom many still consider their neighbor,” said shopkeeper Ali Zaman as he lit a candle. “We decided that as a neighbor, late Yousaf Khan has the right that we remember him and pray for his departed soul.”