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Friday April 12, 2024

Grand old man of Indian radio Ameen Sayani dies at 91

Born in 1932, Ameen Sayani came from a family where literature and language were of paramount significance

By News Desk
February 22, 2024
This image released on February 19, 2024, shows radio announcer Ameen Sayani. — Facebook/All India Radio - Akashvani
This image released on February 19, 2024, shows radio announcer Ameen Sayani. — Facebook/All India Radio - Akashvani

MUMBAI: Ameen Sayani, the iconic radio presenter of the popular show “Binaca Geet Mala”, passed away on Tuesday of a heart attack. He was 91. Sayani’s son, Rajil Sayani confirmed the news of his father’s death. He said that his father suffered a heart attack on Tuesday night after which they took him to HN Reliance Hospital, Mumbai, where he breathed his last. Rajil shared, “The doctors at the hospital attended him but couldn’t save him and he was declared dead,” reported international media.

Born in 1932, Ameen Sayani came from a family where literature and language were of paramount significance. He would assist his mother, Kulsum Sayani, in editing a fortnightly journal called “Rahber”, which was initiated by Mahatma Gandhi. It was simultaneously published in Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, while his brother was the eminent English broadcaster Hamid Sayani. Ameen Sayani began his stint with Radio Ceylon in 1951.

“Namaskar bhaiyon aur behno, main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon,” the voice coming from radio sets that looked like large wooden boxes back in the day entranced the audience in a recently independent India. He eschewed the serious tone of radio presenters and used a style and language that was accessible yet informative. His presentation and show became an immediate hit when All India Radio banned the transmission of any Bollywood numbers. It also became a medium for the promotion of simple Hindustani, something that connected with the people across the country.

His show, Binaca Geet Mala, which began as a 30-minute programme on Radio Ceylon turned into a rage in the 1950s. It went through several name changes but never lost its essence — Binaca Geet Mala, Hit Parade and Cibaca Geetmala. It ran from 1952 to 1994, and was revived in the early naughts; it also moved stations and was later broadcasted on All India Radio’s Vividh Bharti.

As a voiceover artiste, he holds a record for hosting and compering over 54,000 radio programmes. He also hold a record in the Limca Book of Records for his contributions to approximately 19,000 jingles as a voiceover artiste.

His interactions with the stars of the Golden Era also had their own fan following — like when he asked Lata Mangeshkar about difficult questions dealing with royalty issues with Mohammad Rafi and marriage, when Kishore Kumar interviewed himself on his show or his interview with Raj Kapoor.