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finding bollywood stars' roots in peshawar


new delhi, dec 18 (ians) celebrities from the indian film world have condemned the recent bloodbath in pakistan's peshawar city, which has a strong connect to bollywood. from prithiviraj kapoor to dilip kumar to shah rukh khan -- they all have their roots in the city that is mourning the death of 148 people, mostly children, slaughtered by the pakistani taliban.

for years, pakistan has loved the glitz and glamour of the hindi film industry, but bollywood's relationship with peshawar as well as some other cities, is far more organic, given the fact that several of its noted icons hail from them.

prithviraj kapoor, considered a pioneer of indian film and theatre world and whose family has continued to entertain global audiences through cinema till date, came to india from peshawar, which houses the famous kapoor haveli.

it is there that the actor prithviraj's son raj kapoor, who went on to become of india's youngest and most successful actor-director, was born.

in the same neighbourhood in peshawar, another bollywood legend dilip kumar, born yusuf khan, came into the world and spent his early years.

in his autobiography "dilip kumar - the substance and the shadow", the 92-year-old recounts: "we were living in undivided india at the time and there was a sizeable hindu population and the menfolk as well as women mingled freely with muslims in the market square, wishing each other and exchanging pleasantries ever so cheerfully.

"aghaji (my father) had many hindu friends, and one of them was basheshwarnathji, who held an important job in the civil services. his elder son came to our house with him a few times and he stunned the ladies with his handsome appearances. that was raj kapoor's father prithviraj kapoor."

film historian s.m.m. ausaja says "the greatest of stars in bollywood" have roots in what is now pakistan.

"dilip kumar and raj kapoor are both peshawari pathans. then, dev anand, who was born in a part of gurdaspur now in pakistan, studied at lahore university. rajesh khanna's parents belonged to burewala (of then multan district) and amitabh bachchan's mother teji bachchan spent her early years at lyallpur (now faisalabad) and lahore before marrying dr. harivansh rai bachchan," ausaja told ians.

"shah rukh khan's paternal family also belongs to peshawar. the bollywood connect is too pronounced to be ignored," he said.

bollywood arch villain pran also started his career in the lahore film industry before translocating to bombay in wake of the partition.

past reports suggest that the homes of the three legends -- dilip kumar, raj kapoor and shah rukh khan -- are just apart by a few minutes on foot in peshawar.

srk's father taj mohammad mir was born and brought up in peshawar, and they had a business in qissa khwani bazaar, which is still a major market in peshawar, the latter's close associate trilochan singh had once told ians.

just about a year back, the superstar had shared fond memories of visiting peshawar as a teenager with his father, and had said that he harbours a hope to take his three children to visit his family's hometown.

during a conference here, pakistan's former foreign minister hina rabbani khar had asked him about visiting her country and srk responded: "i'd love to! my family is from peshawar and few of them still live there. i would love to come to peshawar and bring my children over because my father took me when i was 15 or 16.

"i still have some of the greatest memories of the time i spent with my father in peshawar, karachi and lahore."

but once culturally rich city of peshawar became a scene of shock and despair when a usual day at an army-run school turned gory with its floor and staircases strewn with the blood of innocent children, the walls left with bullet marks and the glass of the window panes broken -- much like the hopes of the several parents who lost their offspring in the massacre.

hindi film celebrities outpoured their agony and disgust at the episode in the city, from where more names like anil kapoor's father and film producer surinder kapoor, indian cinema's 'venus' madhubala, and bollywood's 'gabbar singh' amjad khan, belong to.

bollywood itself has had a lasting impact on the country.

"indian films have a loyal following since the partition as most hindi/urdu films were made in india, specifically then bombay. lahore had a film industry too. since most stars remained in bombay, the fan following continued to thrive in pakistan," veteran film writer-filmmaker-lyricist amit khanna, told ians.

"until recently, pakistani films were terrible and illicit dvds and tv channels ensured bollywood popularity. for a few years now, about 25 hindi films are released (there) every year. the market is growing and can fetch rs.2 crore to rs.3 crore for a big film," khanna added.

khanna, who worked closely with the legendary dev anand, told ians that dev anand and his elder brother chetan anand studied in government college, lahore.

"balraj sahni, who hailed from rawalpindi, and b.r. chopra were also the alumni of the same college."

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