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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Muhammad Luthfullah Khan 1916-2012 (2012-24)

Muhammad Luthfullah Khan (The Archivist) 1916 – 2012 Commemorative Postage Stamp November 25, 2012:- Muhammad Luthfullah Khan, an Archivist, a Photographer and a Writer, was born at Madras (now called Chennai) on November 25, 1916. His father used to work for the South Indian Railways. He was educated in Madras but moved to Hyderabad later to Mumbai in search of employment. He had extra ordinary fascination for music and singing from his childhood. He participated as amateur singer at the Madras Boys and Girls Exhibition in the year 1931 and received the merit award for Hindustani Music. He signed an agreement  in 1933 for classical singing with the Indian State Broadcasting Service, later re-named as All India Radio. He performed publicly at the age of 19, during a radio concert in 1935. Known as Madras Radio Artist, he sang Ghazals at a function of Muslim Students Association of St. Xavier’s College in January 1939 and rendered classical singing at Bombay in December the same year. After partition he left India and came to Pakistan on October 17. 1947 and settled in Karachi. During quarter century of daily practice (1963 – 1988), he practiced singing with Maulana Abdul Shakoor (newphew of Ustad Abdul Karim Khan) and explored the intricacies of only one raag, the Darbari.
As a young writer his books (Pehloo, Dukhti Ragaeen etc.) were published in early 1936. He performed his first sound recording (voice of his mother) on 29th of July 1951 by using “Sound Mirror” tape recorder, having a single speed of 7.5 inches Per second. Paper tape, coated with magnetic material, was used.
His museum gallery displays rare photographs, photography equipment, international and Pakistani coins, a set of 12 inch 78 rpm discs of Late “Barey Ghulam Ali Khan Sahib”, sound recording equipment and accessories, drawing instrument and stationary items used in documenting the collections and personal items of nostalgic importance as well as a wonderful matchbox collection. (This was his main hobby also). But the pick of this array is an album containing posters of old Hindi and American movies, some of them dating back to twenties. (Late Mr. Theodore Phailbus had the most wonderful collection of Posters in Pakistan). All are arranged in properly illuminated showcases and display boards.
Electronic devices installed include “Revox” tape recorders. Such a broad based collection requires periodic maintenance for which he gas established in a separate room a small workshop with inventory of spares and tools.
His archive contains a large number of rare books on a variety of subjects, including religion. In this personal files, papers are arranged in chronological order in a healthy state. Indexing has been done in simple manner to facilitate easy location of the desired document. His monumental work is un-paralleled in the literary history of the sub-continent.
Different articles were published on his work in the newspapers and magazines. Up to the year 2001, the total number of such essays was 185. Muhammad Luthfullah” Khan penned down eight books pertaining to Urdu literature, Islamic Studies, history and those informing about the lives of great poets and prose writers including:-
1.    Tamashaey – Ahley – Qalam
2.    Sur ki Talaash
3.    Hijratoun key silsiley
4.    Zindagi ka Safar
He has tanscribed all the Urdu Ghazals of Mirza Ghalib into Roman Alphabets. His library comprises the following six categories:
1.    Music of the subcontinent.
2.    Urdu literature – Poetry (Ghazals, Marsia, etc.) and Prose (Novel, Tanqeed etc.)
3.    Religion (Religious books – recitation and narration)
4.    Speeches of public figures including Mr. Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan and Mr. Z.A. Bhutto
5.    Education – Mainly Music and Urdu Literature.
6.    Art – Fine Arts, Interviews supported with transparencies, Musical Instruments description with slides.
The music section is further categorized as under:-
1.    Instrumental
2.    Pure Classical
3.    Semi Classical
4.    Ghazal
5.    Geet
6.    Folklore
7.    Qawali
The taped recordings of each category are contained in different colour boxes. Original Gramophone records have been preserved.
Muhammad Luthfullah Khan, till the age of 96 was working to collect cassettes of Urdu verse and prose. He had archived a wide variety of more than 5,000 voices including the speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad and poetry of great poets like Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Friaq Gorakhpuri, Josh Maleeh Abadi, Noon Meem Rashid, Hafeez Jalandhri, Akhtar-ul-Iman and many other eminent poets. Faiz Ahmed Faiz has gifted recording of his poetry in his voice.
Muhammad Luthfullah Khan has computerized his directory of musical collection. The same Raag is indexed for different instruments and vocalists. Among the vocalists he often listens to, with devotion, are Salamat Ali Khan, Amanat Ali Khan, and Roshan Ara Begum. His most liked Vichtarveena player in Pakistan is Habib Khan. Other outstanding instrumentalists include Ustad Bundoo Khan for “Sarangi” and Sharif Khan Ponchwala for Sitar. He considers Villayat Khan as unique in playing of Sitar.
Most of the catalogues have been prepared through computer in the shape of properly bound hard copies. It was too much of a work to be done by a single person.
This is the lifetime achievement of a dedicated hobbyist – indeed a wonderful work, which may not have a match in the Subcontinent.
His birth place in India (Madras / Channai), is said to have another collector of old records namely Mr. V.A.K. Ranga Rao.
In recognition of his splendid contributions to the field of Art, Literature and Culture, which was span on more than 70 years, especially pres4erving national and international Heritage in shape of cassettes, CDs and books, he was conferred upon a large number of awards from different organizations and circles indlucing Presidential Award for Pride of Performance by the President Islamic Republic of Pakistan in 2012, National Literary Award for the year 1998 on his book “Hijratoon Ke Silsle” and Kamal-e-Fun Award (Life time achievements) awards by the Pakistan Academy of Letters, Islamabad.
Muhammad Luthfullah Khan, passed away on Saturday, March 3, 2012 at the age of 96. He was committed and devoted person who spent most of his life collecting voices from different walks of life.
To pay tribute Muhammad Luthfullah Khan (The Archivist), Pakistan Post is issuing a commemorative postage stamp denomination of Rs. 15/- on November 25, 2012.