Wednesday, March 13, 2013



                                                AIR  LAHORE STAFF ..1940

( Patras Bukhari,  Actor Om Prakash, Jiwan Lal Mattoo  and many more are in this photo. Can any person identify Jiwan Lal Mattoo ? )


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   in 1940 as Producer   and before that he was a Programme executive at the same station) 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 .

Sometime in March  1943 , Jiwan lal ji went for a hair cut to  a saloon in Lahore where a new helper ( nickname Pheeko) to the main barber was singing waris Shah’s   Heer in his own Amritsari  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 Pheeko  at the saloon in Lahore  rose to unprecedented heights in  Indian Film Industry to be known as  Mohd. Rafi.

Both Mohd  Rafi and Jiwan Lal Mattoo were from Amritsar . While Jiwan lal  was from  city , Rafi hailed from a nearby village known as  Kotla Sultan Singh
 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.

Pandit jiwan lal was himself a great exponent of kirana Gharana and  had profound  knowledge  of Punjabi Folk Music and the Raaga Shastra.

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  Pandit jiwan Lal Mattoo sent him to  Ustaad Abdul wahid Khan for some more specialised training.

This new  singing sensation  shaped by Pandit Jiwan lal Mattoo was soon  noticed by   film  Music Director Shyam Sunder  in Lahore  who was on  a look out for a  suitable male singer for his new Film  GUL BALOCH  ( Lead role Actor Shyam ) .  After Gul Baloch,  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 (now in Pakistan)  had also been trained by  Jiwan Lal Mattoo in classical and folk music of Punjab.  Samund singh ji also worked at AIR Lahore at the time of partition of the country .

 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 later half of  nineteenth centaury    . Infact a member from this 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 greedy  shopkeepers who continued to pay a nominal rent of 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 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 both vocal and instrumental . He was   a Disciplinarian  who believed in purity of Ragaas .. He wore tidy clothes and  even during his hectic days at AIR Lahore , never missed his daily Riyaz. He was also seen   at community gathering  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. In  1952, he  founded  the Radio’s first National  Orchestra Called Akashvaani Vadya Vrinda which was later taken over by Pandit  Ravi Shanker . He  lived in this  new city unnoticed .

 Late Kartar Singh Duggal noted Punjabi  writer ( who also worked at AIR Peshawar before Partition ) would often say that  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 Hameed, 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 Jiwanlal Mattoo and the other Akhtari Bai Faizabadi (later Begum Akhtar).”
             ( Begum Akhtar singing from AIR Lahore before 1947)

At page 232 of her Book  “ Raga’n Josh – stories from Musical Life “ , veteran classical Music exponent Shiela Dhar  (wife of P N Dhar key Advisor to Mrs Gandhi )  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. “

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

" Talking of Late Pt Jiwan Lal Mattoo,I would like to add that Pt Mattoo 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 Mattoo's another"

Prof Jaya Parimu ( Music Teacher  )  Adds:

" Jiwan Lal Mattoo is a  well known name among classical music lovers . Madhuri Mattoo used  to be  often on AIR Delhi with her pure classical renditions during 1950  to 1960. Jiwan lal Mattoo's contribution to classical music is no less than Vishnu Digamber Paluskar , Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhandey , Ratanjankar and many more  stalwarts . I remember having viewed portraits of eminent Radio stalwarts along with Jiwan lal Mattoo at AIR Delhi. Hope these are there in the Gallery sections of AIR Delhi."

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 .

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 Ahmed Faiz )

(Autar Mota )


I  need to request my readers to listen to the soul touching rendering of shabd   “KAL TAARAN GURU  NANAK AAYO “ 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.

Two extremely talented broadcasters of AIR Lahore namely Mohini Das and Satnam Kour  decided to stay back in Lahore post 1947.. Both married  Muslims  and Came to be known as Mohini Hameed and Satnam Mehmood Kour in Pakistan.They worked for  Urdu and Punjabi sections of Radio Pakistan. Mohini Hameed   was the first woman broadcaster  of  Pakistan.  She moved to USA post retirement. Mohini was from Batala near Amritsar and it was Jiwan Lal Mattoo who helped her in getting entry in Radio Lahore in1939. Patras Bukhari ( who was station  Director AIR Lahore at that time) had also heard her   Urdu  compering in some function and he too was highly impressed by her  style. He immediately okayed recommendations of Jiwan Lal Mattoo. Mohini's daughter Kanwal Naseer was the first female face on Pakistan Television in 1964. . Mohini passed away in 2009 and the Lahore studio of Radio Pakistan was renamed ‘Mohini Hameed Studio’..
                         (Mohini Hameed)
             ( Satnam Mehmood Kour)


Patras Bukhari (  a Kashmiri by birth  name Syed Ahmed Shah ) was married to Zubaida Wanchoo  a Kashmiri women He was Director General AIR  New Delhi before 1947. He died in New York where he was working with UNO. He was a diplomat and  well known writer as well..


Satnam Mehmood Kour  later Joined Pakistan Civil services and was a women"s rights activist , College Professor and educationist apart from being a well known Broadcaster.Satnam did her doctorate from Harvard .She joined AIR Lahore in 1941 . Her ancestors had served in the Army of Maharaja Ranjt Singh. Satnam had married Well known freedom fighter and  progressive leader Mehmood Ali Khan . It was Mohini who had inspired Satnam to join AIR Lahore.She was daughter of Charan singh  well known writer from Lahore          

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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


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