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Ameen Sayani, the Grand Old Man of Indian Radio, Dies at 91

Popular former radio announcer, achieved fame and popularity all across the Indian Subcontinent for his show Binaca Geetmala

Mumbai, EW News: Ameen Sayani, the iconic radio presenter and the cherished voice behind the legendary show “Binaca Geet Mala,” passed away on Tuesday night at the age of 91. The veteran broadcaster succumbed to a heart attack, leaving behind a legacy that continues to resonate with generations of Indians.

Ameen Sayani’s son, Rajil Sayani, confirmed the news of his father’s demise, stating that Ameen suffered a heart attack on Tuesday night. Despite immediate medical attention at HN Reliance Hospital, Mumbai, Ameen Sayani could not be saved and was declared dead.
Born in 1932 into a family where literature and language held great significance, Ameen Sayani began his illustrious career with Radio Ceylon in 1951. His distinctive introduction, “Namaskar bhaiyon aur behno, main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon,” became synonymous with radio entertainment, captivating listeners across the nation.

Ameen Sayani’s breakthrough came when All India Radio banned the transmission of Bollywood numbers, leading to the rise of his show, Binaca Geet Mala. The program, which started as a 30-minute show on Radio Ceylon, evolved into a cultural phenomenon that ran from 1952 to 1994. Despite name changes, including Binaca Geetmala, Hit Parade, and Cibaca Geetmala, the essence of the show remained intact. Binaca Geet Mala was revived in the early 2000s, moving across stations and ultimately finding a place on All India Radio’s Vividh Bharti.

Ameen Sayani’s style of presentation, characterized by accessible yet informative language, resonated with audiences and became a medium for promoting simple Hindustani. As a voiceover artist, he set records by hosting and compering over 54,000 radio programs and contributing to approximately 19,000 jingles, earning him a place in the Limca Book of Records.
His memorable interactions with stars of the Golden Era, including interviews with Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar interviewing himself, and conversations with Raj Kapoor, added to his widespread fan following. Reflecting on his illustrious career, Ameen once shared in an interview, “I wanted each listener to feel that I was talking to them, and it immediately struck a chord. It, surprisingly, even revolutionized radio presentation. They were such fantastic times. It was my romance with Radio Ceylon.”

Ameen Sayani has produced, compiled (or spoken for) over 54,000 radio programmes and 19,000 spots/jingles since 1951. Sayani was also a part of various movies throughout the years, such as Bhoot Bungla, Teen Devian, Boxer, and Qatl. He appeared in all of these movies in the role of an announcer in some events.

With the passing of Ameen Sayani, the Grand Old Man of Indian Radio, the nation mourns the loss of a true pioneer whose voice left an indelible mark on the hearts of millions.
Tributes have been pouring in on social media for Ameen Sayani, who helped popularise All India Radio in India. “Binaca Geetmala would always remain eternal. Thank you for the music and memories. RIP, Ameen Sayani Saab,” tweeted a fan. Another wrote, “Have very fond memories of binaca Geetmala during my childhood…Ameen Sayani was a legend at that time… rest in peace sir.”

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