Wednesday, November 8, 2023



( Persian scholar and historian Dr K N Pandita with the book ) 

( Tributes and Recollections )
By Avtar Mota
(Pages 338. ISBN 968-93-5782-904-5
Printed at Thomson Press ( India )  Ltd
Published in November 2023)

Read the book to know about the contribution and some fascinating anecdotes  relating to people like, Jiwan Lal Mattoo ( who discovered Mohammad Rafi ) , Prof Peter Raina ( Poland ) , Satish Kaul(Amitabh Bachan of Punjabi cinema ) , Persian scholar and historian Dr Kashi Nath Pandita ,  artist Som Nath Butt, Ghulam Nabi Doolwal( poet and Chalant singer )  melody queen Raj Begum,  actor Shadi Kaul, Uma Khosla or Nikki Appa , actor Balraj Sahni,  playwright Dr Shankar Raina,  composer Dewan Virender Mohan ,  writer ,painter and pioneer of radio drama Pran Kishore Kaul, filmmaker Arun Kaul, Hakim Shyam Lal Bhat , artist Raqib Shaw, poet Dina Nath Nadim ,poet Radhey Nath Masarat, poet Sham Lal of Mahind ( Bijbihara ) , Shanta Kaul ( first woman announcer from Kashmir ) , sacred geometry of artist G R Santosh , Sufiana singer Ustad Ramzan Joo, Pandit Ved Lal Dhar Vakil, Prof Sri Kanth Toshakhani, Gopi Nath Bhat (  singer and dancer  from Kashmir ), Pandit Jia Lal Saraf,  Santoor maestro  Pandit Bhajan Sopori, Som Nath Sadhu, radio artist and playwright Pushkar Bhan,  Govind Navdhara ( his Charan-Bulgaar or ointment for frostbite), stage and cinema artist Triloke Dass, Makhan Lal Saraf, poet Rajab Hamid, Dr Ali Jan,  the Kashmiri  Pandit who opened first tailoring shop in Lal Chowk, Naswaar or snuff  consumption in Kashmir,  fermented rice water or Kaanz drinking in Kashmir,  Slacks Molvi of  Kashmir, Mahadev Bishta , Halwai Shops  of Kashmir ,Ramzaan Saad-maqaar ( fake Syed),Samual Baqal ( the first educated Muslim  Christian from Kashmir), Ben Ded ( wife of R C Kak ,Ex Prime Minister ), Habba Kadal ( a hub of Kashmiri Pandits ), Kashmiri cradle songs , Flowers of Kashmir, Rainawari locality( men and memories), Hukh, Hatab, Heater And Stove (power theft and  kitchen fuels ) , Ganda Oluv ( onions and potatoes ),Common Bhajans and Leelas of Kashmir, and many more stories

" I read it  nonstop . Gripping narrative . A great cultural journey undertaken through the book." Prof J Martin .

The book is available on Amazon worldwide.






In India, it is currently available at ..

A R V Enterprises prop  Rohit Pandita ..
9596976373...( you can spk from 10 am  to 10 PM any day) Pan India  distributor for the book  . He can courier in 2 days . Avail   discount of 100 rupees from Rohit Pandita .Net Price Rs 460/-


Book reviewed by Sh Ashok Ogra . Review published by Daily Excelsior on 24th November , 2023.


Second review of the book by Dr Ramesh Tamiri is as under :-

( The Shikaras in the Frozen Lake -- Another master-piece by Avtar Mota
                 The Shikaras in the Frozen Lake  is yet another master-piece written by Avtar Mota.His earlier books ,The Tulip and the Snowstorm, Landscape and Lament-Art, Exile and The Rebel Artist( biography of renowned artist Bansi Parimu), The Books you missed to read and the Books that may change your beliefs were also well-received. 
                         20th century Kashmir  remained a centre of great cultural resurgence.The people contributed in every field- Theatre, painting,music,poetry,historiography, literature, broadcasting,etc.Many of these talented people did exceptionally well outside the valley too.Much of this activity peaked in 1970s and  early 1980s.New generation of Kashmiris do not know about these talented people for two reasons. One, there is not much written material on these people. Secondly, displacement of Kashmiri Hindu community.
          Writer and researcher Avtar Mota has dug deep into the sources to create an authentic material on these Kashmiris.  The Shikaras in the Frozen Lake  needs to be read by everyone who is interested in cultural history of Kashmir.
               Chapters on Jiwan Lal Mattoo, Bhajan Sopori, Mohan Lal Aima,Dewan Virinder Mohan,Jagar Nath Shivpuri,Ustaad Ramzan Joo and Raj Begum take us on a journey of music in Kashmir and the contribution of stalwarts.Not many people had heard about Jiwan Lal Mattoo.In fact, there was no material on him.Avtar Mota left no efforts to contact all those who knew Jiwan Lal or were aware of his contributions to produce a remarkable profile of him.
                Jiwan Lal Mattoo’s ancestors hailed from Rainawari suburb of Srinagar.They settled down in Amritsar, a common centre for Kashmiri shawl  traders in 18-19 centuries.A part of Mattoo clan came to  Lahore to try  for better opportunities.Jiwan Lal Mattoo worked in AIR  from 1937-47, heading its music section.It was during this tenure he discovered  jewels in the world of music- Mohammad Rafi, Surinder Kaur ,etc.Many  others who received his patronage included  Noor Jahan,Zeenat Begum, Ali Baksh Zahoor, S Mohinder,Assa Singh Mastaana, Vidya Nath Seth, Prakash Kaur, Shiv Dayal Batish, Bhai Samund Singh Raagi,etc.
          Jiwan Lal Mattoo met Rafi at a barber saloon in 1943, where  Rafi  was working as a helper.Jiwan Lal was impressed by his voice quality.Rafi received his initial training in music from Jiwan Lal and he  never forgot   to  acknowledge  this.It was Jiwan Lal again who referred him for further training to Ustaad Waheed Khan.   Jiwan Lal was himself an accomplished musician in Kirana Gharana.He had his training from the same  Ustaad.  Ustaad Waheed  Khan  was also teacher of legendary Begum Akhtar and Hira Bai.
          Similarly, we know very little about  contributions of Jagan Nath Shivpuri.His institution Prem Sangeet Niketan, established in 1939, trained three generations of   musicians.He had his training in Kolkata under renowned musicologist PC Chatterji.Jagar Nath Shivpuri’s handwritten notations are said to be the biggest contribution to the field of music. Rare details given by the author bring  to light the immense contribution of this great musicologist, who stayed  away from limelight.
       Gopi Nath Bhat is another  talented folk singer and singer of yesteryears, about him  present generation and others know very little.He was  very popular  in 1960s and 1970s and often invited on  Mehndiraat  functions.Besides singing and playing musical instruments, Gopi Nath  was a talented artiste  in Bacha nagma genre.He was familiar to Hafiz nagma also.He was a superb dancer.
             Chapters on Dewan Virinder Mohan, Ustaad Ramzan Joo,Mohan Lal Aima,  Raj Begum  and  Ghulam Nabi Doolwal are quite illuminating and provide interesting insights on their talent in music.
      Prof. Peter Raina (Prediman Krishan Raina)  is a   fascinating personality discussed  in the book.At National High School,  Bansi Parimu and Moti Lal Kemu were  among  his close friends.After studying in New York, Germany and Oxford, Peter Raina  earned his doctorate at Warsaw university.His doctorate was on Polish-German relations in the 1930s.He got involved with anti-state groups in Warsaw university.Prof.Peter Raina has authored over 25 books on Polish history, the anti-communist movement, the Polish church,etc.He married a Polish  student, Barbara Wyreszczynska. A film by a Polish Director Bozena GarusHockuba, They took his love away , explores the tragic end of his wife by secret police.
      Equally interesting is  the  story of Arun Kaul.  He moved to Mumbai   quite early and joined magazine Bharati on its editorial staff.He also used to write scripts and lyrics for dance dramas.Arun Kaul was  selected by  Chetan Anand as Assistant Director for his film Haqeeqat.He was one of the pioneers of New Cinema, which took up serious issues  for films and was also low-budget.He co-scripted and directed Diksha.Arun Kaul  made many TV documentaries.His weekly  programme Kashmir File produced by Vyeth Television became very popular.
           Chapter on Dwarka Nath Gigoo ‘Rajkamal’ provides interesting insights on his  multi-dimensional talent.He was a musician who could play  musical instruments, a modern painter, a  short-story writer and a poet, besides being a very good teacher.
          Radhey Nath Masarat is another poet who was never given his due.He was well-read and wrote poetry in Kashmiri in a distinct style.The author introduces us to his famous poem- Assi von na kinhi.
                  The story of famous tailoring shop Navyug Tailors is covered in detail.There used to be many tailoring shops run by Kashmiri Pandits, who had to give up tailoring  because of social reasons. Many parents did not give their daughters to tailors. Lamboodar Nath Tikoo was ahead of his times.He was educated and belonged to an affluent family.His father, Lakhshman Joo Tikoo,  was the engineer who built BC  road. Lamboodar  Tikoo  was sent by his father to study engineering but his heart was in tailoring.He got himself trained as a professional tailor. His clientele included VIPs, Europeans and  many  locals.He had 3 shops, one in Habba Kadal and 2 in civil lines area.His brother too joined him.Lamboodar Nath Tikoo  started a paper Navyug to counter negative campaign  he faced from a section of his community.Veteran journalist Nand Lal Wattal was its first editor.The shop trained  many people, who later emerged as top ranking  tailors and set up their own businesses. 1947 Pakistani invasion hit their business and the shop had to be closed down.Another famous Kashmiri Pandit tailor of those times was Shamboo Nath. He was expert in stitching suits.The name of his shop was Lakshmi Tailors.
 There are interesting chapters on daring reformer Ved Lal Dhar Vakil, Samuel Baqqal, and   how  broadcaster Ramesh Marhatta  escaped from  the  clutches of terrorists in 1990.
                     The book is a master-piece with excellent printing and binding.It preserves the contributions of many talented Kashmiris in different fields for posterity.)

This is what noted Bollywood actor K K Raina wrote to me :

"Dear Avtar ji , hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your creative  space , Thanks for presenting me your book “ The Shikaras in The Frozen Lake “ it is a wonderful book giving us details of our socio - cultural history . For me it was a fresh introduction to Kashmir , both parts Tributes and Recollections  are very special , it brought smile and tears in my eyes   . I cannot believe what we have lost and perhaps impossible to recover , your book is a great testament to the history of Kashmir and Kashmiri Pandits  , congratulations for writing this wonderful book and the way you have structured it , I am touched . I left Srinagar in 1973 for my training and therefore had no touch with what was happening in the creative arts in Kashmir , Your book has created a bridge between my past and present , thanks sir , I have no words to express my gratitude . I am happy to have read your book , best regards.  KK Raina." 

( Avtar Mota)

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