Friday, July 24, 2009

Matka Gambling in Bombay (Mumbai)

Matka is a type of gambling that originated in Mumbai, India. The word Matka is often used as a synonym for "gambling" in India. Matka is known to be started and made a big money proposition in India by Ratan Khatri.

Matka is also known as Satta and is an ingenious system of gambling on numbers. Punters bet money on numbers (2 or 3 digit) and the winning number receives eighty times the sum wagered. However there are smaller wins too.





The movie is the first attempt in India to localise The Godfather. This film's protagonist Premnath was based on the character of Matka king Ratan Khatri.



Mumbai, December 1 Sitting on the rickety Janta Stands of Mahalaxmi Race Course, an old man pours diligently over the race book and talks to himself in whispers. He has been a regular for years but no one can claim to be on back-slapping terms with the 71-year-old in white kurta-pyjama and a scarf tied like a head band.

There’s an aura surrounding Ratan Khatri—the erstwhile Matka King who from the early 60s to mid-90s decided the fate of several lakh punters and dealt with crores of rupess through a nationwide illegal gambling network with international connections. Police crackdown on his unauthorised lottery kingdom in 1995, the subsequent arrest and distancing from his grown-up children means the illicit odd-maker of the past now spends most afternoons at the Race Course as a faceless punter with a Rs 10 race book in his hands.

The wager world still holds him in awe and his highly dependable Matka system with amazing odds is part of the romantic folklore among the old-hand gamblers. At Race Course, they point fingers at him from a distance, shake their heads and get nostalgic: “Kya jamana tha Ratan Khatri ka”.

But Khatri prefers anonymity. As for his eventful past he says, “No flashbacks please. I’m a simple man who wants to lead a simple life”.

It is only after repeated requests that the man, who came to Mumbai from Karachi after Independence, opens his treasure chest of memories and there pop out several public figures. With a “no names please” conditions, Khatri claims several filmstars, corporates and politicians had more than passing interest in Matka and, at times, gave him midnight calls when in need of urgent cash.

Khatri even went on to produce a movie. And his association with films doesn’t end there—his sons own a film-theatre in Amravati.

It’s the memories of early 60s that bring a smile to Khatri’s face. It all started in the bustling business area of Dhanji Street in Mumbadevi where idlers used to wager on the daily trickle of the fluctuating cotton rates from the New York market. Gradually, it became a big gambling hub as the quantum of bets and betters increased. It was a row over a winning number plus the New York market’s five-day week schedule that saw compulsive betters looking for alternatives.

“Friends told me to start my own syndicate and I started drawing three cards to decide the day’s number,” he says about the beginning of an activity that was to last for more than three decades. “People had great faith in my system. I would even ask them to open the three cards. I knew it was illegal but I ran it with complete honesty,” says Khatri.

According to him, the reason Matka lost its pull is because “today’s criminals are running the little bit of whatever is left of Matka plus there is also the option of instant lottery”.

But all that is past for the man who spent 19 months behind bars during Emergency. He has retired, lives in obscurity with his wife near Tardeo, but still the urge to gamble remains.

Khatri suffered a paralytic attack in 2001 but his sharp mind can still juggle numbers and weigh the odds. “Though I recovered, I have disciplined my life. I do some exercise in the morning, have a few slices of bread with a cup of milk for breakfast, skip lunch but have proper dinner. That’s it,” he says. As an afterthought, he adds, “And of course, upma at racecourse”. But it seems it is the afternoon at racecourse that keeps the Matka king going.

Khatri was adored by the masses in Mumbai, who easily made profits by spending as little as five rupees on Matka gambling. In a time of political disarray during the emergency announced by Indira Gandhi, Ratan Khatri was arrested for 19 months. Following his arrest, and as a result of extreme public resentment towards Indira Gandhi, there were chants by the disillusioned Indian masses that Ratan Khatri should become prime minister instead of Indira Gandhi - the slogan(a reference to Gandhi's Garibi Hatao campaign) went "Indira Gandhi ko hatao, Ratan Khatri ko prime minister banao".



source: Indian Express

6 comments:

rakesh singh said...

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By: "Rasajo"
Please help me..!

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