21 Feb 2024

Iconic voice behind Binaca Geetmala Ameen Sayani was once rejected because of a tinge of Gujarati accent

Prominent radio figure Ameen Sayani, celebrated as the iconic voice behind Binaca Geetmala, has passed away at the age of 91, as confirmed by his son Rajil Sayani on Wednesday.

Sayani experienced a heart attack on Tuesday night and was promptly taken to a hospital in South Mumbai; unfortunately, efforts to save him were unsuccessful.

Rajil conveyed, "He passed away last night due to a heart attack at H N Reliance hospital. He was rushed to the hospital around 6:00 pm after complaining of chest pain. Despite attempts to revive him, he passed away around 7:00 pm."

Rajil added that the last rites are scheduled for tomorrow, and the family will release a statement shortly.

Born in Mumbai on December 21, 1932, into a multilingual family, Sayani, known for his signature introduction "Namaste behno aur bhaiyon, main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon" on Radio Ceylon, holds a special place in the hearts of nostalgic listeners.

From a young age, Sayani displayed a creative inclination. He began his broadcasting journey in English on the children's programs of All India Radio Bombay.

Sayani was rejected because of a tinge of Gujarati accent in his voice

Sayani, however, was rejected when he auditioned to present in Hindustani because of a slight tinge of Gujarati accent in his voice.

When the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting, B V Keskar banned Hindi songs from AIR, Radio Ceylon started to become popular, which was then broadcasted from Colombo, started to boom.

A groundbreaking show

In December 1952, Sayani began hosting Binaca Geetmala on Radio Ceylon, marking the beginning of a groundbreaking show that ran until 1994, captivating audiences for an impressive 42 years. The program continued to charm listeners into the early 2000s with slight variations in its name.

Ameen Sayani was introduced to All India Radio, Bombay, by his brother Hamid Sayani. Ameen participated in English programmes there for ten years.

Sayani was also a part of various movies

Later, he helped popularise All India Radio in India. Sayani was also a part of various movies throughout the years like Bhoot Bungla, Teen Devian, Boxer, and Qatl. He appeared in all of these movies in the role of an announcer in some event.

Sayani assisted his mother, Kulsum Sayani, in editing, publishing and printing a fortnightly journal for neo-literates, under the instructions of Mahatma Gandhi. The fortnightly, RAHBER (1940 to 1960), was simultaneously published in the Devnagri (Hindi), Urdu and Gujarati scripts – but all in the simple "Hindustani" language promoted by Gandhi.

It was this grounding in simple communication that helped him in his long career of commercial broadcasting, and culminated in his being awarded the "Hindi Ratna Puraskaar" by the prestigious Hindi Bhavan of New Delhi in 2007.

Worked in the marketing department of Tata Oil Mills

One little known fact about him is that he worked in the marketing department of Tata Oil Mills Ltd. during 1960–62 as Brand Executive – mainly looking after their toilet soaps: Hamam and Jai.

Between All India Radio (since 1951), AIR's Commercial Service (since 1970) and various foreign stations (since 1976), Sayani has produced, compered (or spoken for) over 54,000 radio programmes and 19,000 spots/jingles. (The fact is recorded in the Limca Book of Records.)

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