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.
jodis of kalyan and bombay
kindly give details story of matka as on today
Today matka open & close pana only?
i want to know about reading of chart. please suggest
about current reading and scheam reading