Wednesday, March 13, 2013



Photo Autar Mota 2012 .


I believe some of us must have come across the name of Ustad Abdul Waheed Khan Sahib (1876-1949 ) the great Vocalist of Kirana Gharana from Lahore . Khan sahib was a teacher to Begum Akhtar ,Hira Bai , Pran Nath and Suresh Babu. He was a strict disciplinarian who never allowed any person to record his performances. But Kudos to late Jiwan lal Mattoo (who headed the Music section of AIR Lahore in  1940 as Producer and before that he was a Programme Executive) for secretly recording a live radio broadcast of khayal and Thumri rendering from AIR Lahore in 1947 . The music lovers in the world remain indebted to Jiwan Lal Matto for these recordings which made this great maestro immortal . And khan sahib incidentally happened to be the teacher and Guru of Pandit Jiwan lal Mattoo . Pandit jiwan lal was himself a great exponent of kirana Gharana and had profound knowledge of Punjabi Folk Music and the Raaga Shastra.

Sometime in March 1943 , Jiwan lal ji went for a hair cut in a saloon in Lahore where a new helper to the main barber was singing waris Shah’s Heer in his own Amrisari style. Jiwan lal Ji was attracted to the voice quality of the boy whom he invited to AIR Lahore for an Audition. The young boy cleared the Audition in one go and later this casual help at the saloon in Lahore rose to unprecedented heights in Indian Film Industry to be known as Mohd. Rafi. Jiwan lal Mattoo also brought some noted Punjabi singers namely Noor Jahan , Zeenat Begum,, Ali Baksh Zahoor, S Mohinder ,Assa Singh Mastaana , Vidya Nath Seth , Surinder kaur , Prakash Kaur and Shiv Dayal Batish as contractual Artists at AIR Lahore . Malika Pukhraj was already well known to him as she was an approved singer at AIR Lahore.

Both Mohd Rafi and Jiwan Lal Mattoo were from Amritsar . While Jiwan lal Mattoo's roots lay  in the  city , Rafi hailed from a nearby village known as Kotla Sultan Singh.So much was Pandit Jiwan lal ji impressed by the tonal quality of young Rafi that he asked him to come to his residence during evenings and also on holidays where some basic knowledge of classical music was imparted to the young singer from Amritsar village.. Pandit jiwan Lal Mattoo also trained young Rafi in Raag Shastra especially some commonly used Raagas in Punjab’s folk music like Pahaadi, Bhairavi, Basant and Malhaar . The boy picked up very fast and was soon approved as an Artist at AIR Lahore under continued guidance and patronage of his Guru . Later Mohd  Rafi also learnt music from Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sahib and  Ustad Abdul waheed Khan sahib. also .  This new singing sensation shaped initially  by Pandit Jiwan lal Mattoo was soon noticed by Music Director Shyam Sunder in Lahore who was on a look out for a suitable male singer for his new Film GUL BALOCH . Later Pandit Hussan Lal Bhagat Ram also signed Mohd Rafi for a film in Lahore.The rest is a history after Rafi shifted to Mumbai much before the partition of the country.

I was told by an elderly professor in Amritsar that Bhai Samund Singh Raagi who used to sing at Gurdwara Janam Asthaan Nankaana sahib had also been trained by Jiwan Lal Mattoo in classical folk music of Punjab. Samund singh ji also worked at AIR Lahore at the time of partition of the country .I need to request my readers to listen to the soul touching rendering of shabd “KAL TAARAN GURU NANAK AAYA “ by samund singh ji. This composition was also used by producers of the movie NANAK NAAM JAHAAZ HAI .The rendering by Samund Singh ji is a class apart in pure classical style.

Padam Vibushan Pandit Ram Narayan from Udaipur is a renowned sarangi player who was approved by AIR Lahore in 1944 and also supported and guided by none other than Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo..Pandit Ram Narayan also worked in Mumbai film Industry before moving to Europe and USA as visiting Teacher and performer of Indian classical Music ( Instrumentalist ) .

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sahib , Barkat Ali Khan Sahib ,Mukhtar Begum , Shamshad Begum ,Umrao Zia ,Nawab Bai ,Ustad Allah Rakha , Vidya Nath seth and Rehmat Qawal ( Malerkotla ) held Pandit Jiwan lal Mattoo in high esteem. Film music composer Amar Nath ,Gobind Ram and Dhani Ram were influenced by the music of Pandit Jiwan lal Mattoo.Noted sitar Player Mahmud Mirza is a direct disciple of Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo.

Mohd Rafi and Mehmud Mirza never forgot Jiwan lal Mattoo. Both would pay glowing tributes to their Guru.

And who is this Jiwan lal Mattoo ?

Jiwan lal Mattoo belonged to a pre- Partition family of kashmiri Pandits settled in Amritsar. He was a renowned musicologist of the country who is known for his two outstanding student ; Mohd Rafi and Sitar Maestro Mehmud Mirza .His ancestor Pandit Mehtab Ram Mattoo , a shawl trader , had actually moved to this city from kashmir sometime in  nineteenth centaury . Infact a member from this Mattoo  family namely Kashmiri Lal Mattoo had also donated about one kanal of Land inside walled city of Amritsar ( Present location Farid Chowk ) in 1908 AD for construction of a community centre and a Shiva Temple now known as shivala kashmiri Panditan . I have visited this Shivala complex at Farid Chowk ( which is presently a commercial area) in 2003 and found that the miniscule Kashmiri Pandit Population currently living in Amritsar was engaged in a litigation with some  shopkeepers who continued to pay a nominal rent (at that point of time )  of something Rs10 or Rs 15/=  per month per shop belonging to Shivala kashmiri Panditan occupied by them since last so many years . I do not know the present status of the litigation .

I was also informed by an elderly sikh shop keeper that about 200 to 250 kashmiri Pandit Families lived in Amritsar city before partition and the Muslims from Kashmir who lived in the city and suburbs numbered about 16 to 17 thousands approximately.

Jiwan lal Mattoo had a profound knowledge of classical music essentially  vocal  . He was a Disciplinarian who believed in purity of Ragaas ..  Those who saw him  confirm that he wore tidy clothes and even during his hectic days at AIR Lahore , never missed his daily Riyaz. He was also seen at community gatherings at Shivala Kashmiri Panditaan Lahore . This shivala at the junction of Vachchuwali and Mohalla Sareen Lahore was constructed by Raja Dina Nath Madan ( Finance Minister in the court of Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Lahore ) in 1835 AD for Kashmiri Pandit community of Lahore.

The partition of the country proved a great setback for this music genius . He arrived in Delhi as a refugee from Lahore and joined AIR.  Here at  Delhi ,he founded the Radio’s first National Orchestra Called Akashvaani Vadya Vrinda which was later taken over by Sitar Maestro late Pandit Ravi Shanker who joined AIR New Delhi as Music Director in 1950  . HPandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo  lived in this new city unnoticed .

Late Kartar Singh Duggal noted Punjabi writer ( who also worked at AIR Peshawar before Partition ) once wrote
 “Every one who rose to become someone in Music world during early forties in undivided Punjab, found himself indebted to Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo who worked at AIR Lahore from 1937 to 1947 .

Adds A Hamid, distinguished Urdu novelist and short story writer

“The old Lahore radio station no longer exists except for those of us who spent our early youth in its studios and corridors. It lay in an old house next to Shimla Pahari at the back of Governor’s House. I had visited it two or three times before Pakistan was created. There are only two people whom I can recall from that time. One was music composer Jiwan lal Mattoo and the other Akhtari Bai Faizabadi (later Begum Akhtar).”

At page 232 of her Book “ Raga’n Josh – stories from Musical Life “ , veteran classical Music exponent Shiela Dhar informs as under :-

“ In the course of his stay at Lahore , Ustad Abdul Karim Khan sahib also taught Jiwan lal Mattoo together with his son Jawahar Mattoo and daughter in law Madhuri Mattoo. All the three remained practitioners of Kiranaa Gharana ”

  Pandit Ram Narayan  ( Born 1927 ) Well Known Sarangi Player remembers Pandit Jiwan Lal Mattoo as under   :

 “In 1944, I  traveled to Lahore to find work in a film studio, but was unsuccessful.  Instead  of work , I auditioned for the local All India Radio (AIR) as a singer, but the station's music producer Jiwan Lal Mattoo noticed grooves in my  fingernails. Sarangis are played by pressing the fingernails sideways against three playing strings, which strains the nails. Mattoo made me  play sarangi, upon which I  was employed as an accompanist for vocalists. Mattoo gave me  a room to stay in and later helped me  contact khayal singer Abdul Wahid Khan, a rigorous teacher under whom I learned four ragas. “

Jiwan lal Mattoo was  married  to Roopwanti Bakaya ( Daughter of Niranjan Nath Bakaya ). Roopwanti died at new Delhi in 1973. Apart from Jawahar Mattoo , Jiwan Lal Mattoo had another son Moti lal  Mattoo ( 1927 -2009 ) who was settled in Canada .

Pandit T K Jalali vocalist and we'll known Composer adds:

" Talking of Late Pt Jeevan Lal Matto,I would like to add that Pt Matto was a renowned vocalist of his time,held in great esteem.His son Jawahar Matto was associated with d music section of AIR & his Vidushi Madhuri Matto was a  celebrated artist of d country.My first cousin Malti Matto( Dulari Kak) from paternal side w/o Moti Lal Matto, who expired recently at Calgary Canada was Pt Matteo's another"

I end this post with  couplets of urdu poet  Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Ham Paravarish-e-lauh-o-Qalam karatay  Raheingay
Jo Dil pe Guzaratii hai Raqam karatay  Raheingy
Ek Tarz-e-Tagaaful hai so voh un ko Mubaarak
Ek Arz-e-Tamannaa hai so ham karatay Raheingay
( Faiz )

 (Autar Mota)

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  1. Hi. I am a genealogist by hobby and have been researching kashmiri pandits for a while. I have the tree of kashmira Mal Mattoo and his father Mehtab Ram Mattoo. I have also the tree for Jeevan Lal Mattoo's sister but I cannot connected him with the rest of the clan. I would be grateful if you could share more information on his ancestry or guide me towards some leads. Regards Anchit Gupta (

  2. Hi Anchit
    DO you know if Mr. Kashmira Mal Mattoo's ancestors lived in Rainwari in Srinagar. I am also a Mattoo and my understanding is that all Mattoo's originated from Rainawari.
    Ravi Mattoo

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  5. Thanks for this great piece on Pandit Jeevan Lal Mattoo. As a lifelong Lahori with a passion for the city's history, Jeevan Lal Mattoo's name will live forever as the foremost discoverers of Punjabi musical talent pre-partition.

    I also read with great interest details of his Kashmiri Pandit background. My father's family was amongst the 16-17,000 Kashmiris who lived in Amritsar. They moved to Lahore following the partition riots. There is a still a large population of Kashmiris in Lahore who came from Amritsar and a famous mithai shop called Amritsari Sweet Shop on Beadon Road where many of those Kashmiris initially settled (including the famous short story writer, Saadat Hasan Manto)

  6. Thanks a lot Autar and Fawad for beautifully connecting the dots of history