Ameen Sayani is definitely the most popular and most renowned radio announcer from India. He achieved worldwide fame, and especially in all across South Asia when he presented his hit countdown show Binaca Geetmala from Radio Ceylon in the 1960’s.
Even today his style of salutation to the audience, “Behno aur Bhaiyo” is still treated as the standard announcement with a melodious touch. He has produced and compered more than 54,000 radio programs and 19,000 spots and jingles since 1951, which is a record listed in the Limca Book of Records. He was also a recipient of the Padma Shri award in 2009.
Ameen Sayani’s mother Kulsum Sayani was a social activist, recipient of Padma Shri and a disciple of Mahatma Gandhi. She edited, published and printed a fortnightly journal for neo-literates in simple language, on the instructions of Mahatma Gandhi. From his childhood, Ameen helped his mother in all the activities related to the journal, Rahber, which was published from 1940 to 1960. It was simultaneously published in the Devnagri, Urdu and Gujarati scripts.
Sayani joined All India Radio, Bombay, on a reference from his brother Hamid Sayani. There, Ameen did English programs for ten years. His programs helped popularize All India Radio in India. Meanwhile Amen Sayani also played several cameo roles of an announcer in several movies of the time such as Bhoot Bungla, Teen Devian, Boxer, Qatl etc.
The legacy of working in simple language to communicate with the masses, which he learned from his mother, endeared him as a radio announcer to his audience. His use of simple Hindi in his communication and commercial broadcasting was honored by the Hindi Bhavan, New Delhi in 2007 with “Hindi Ratna Puraskar”, and two years later in 2009 by the Padma Shri award.
A little known fact is that he also worked as Brand executive in the Marketing Department of Tata Oil Mills Ltd. during 1960–62, looking after their toilet soaps Hamam and Jai.
After joining All India Radio in 1951 and AIR’s Commercial Service Vividh Bharati in 1970; he also worked with various foreign radio stations after 1976.
Radio Shows Produced and Compered by Ameen Sayani
Some of his best known radio shows were; Binaca Geetmala, later renamed as Cibaca Geetmala which has been broadcasted since 1952 from Radio Ceylon, and later from Vividh Bharati, AIR – for a total of over 42 years. It was revived after a gap of 4 years, and was aired over the National Network of Vividh Bharati for 2 years as Colgate Cibaca Geetmala.
S. Kumars Ka Filmi Muqaddama and Filmi Mulaqaat; over AIR and Vividh Bharati for 7 years and later re-commenced after a decade, on Vividh Bharati.
Saridon Ke Saathi; it was All India Radio’s first sponsored show, and continued for 4 years.
Bournvita Quiz Contest; for 8 years. He took over after the death of his brother Hamid Sayani, in 1975.)
Shalimar Superlac Jodi; for 7 years.
Maratha Darbar shows like Sitaron Ki Pasand, Chamaktay Sitaray, Mehekti Baaten, etc. for 14 years.
Sangeet Kay Sitaron Ki Mehfil for 4 years.
He also produced a 13-episode radio series on HIV/AIDS cases, which is used by many NGOs for their field-work.
He also produced several volumes of musical radio shows on cassettes, LPs and CDs which were well appreciated.
From 1976, he also exported Indian radio shows for BBC in UK and to USA, Canada, UAE, Swaziland, Mauritius, South Africa, Fiji and New Zealand, wherever there was a sizeable Indian population; and also compered several shows for radio stations abroad.
Sayani has compered over 2000 stage shows and functions, like fashion shows, award functions, film jubilee functions, concerts, seminars, workshops, and trade presentations; in India as well as abroad.
Honors and Awards
In 2009, he was conferred the Padma Shri award by the Government of India. Besides this, Ameen Sayani has been also honoured with several awards; such as:
- Living Legend Award (2006) from Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI)
- Kaan Hall Of Fame Award (2003) from Radio Mirchi
- Golden Abby by Advertising Club, Bombay (2000) for the outstanding radio campaign of the century – Binaca/Cibaca Geetmala
- Hall Of Fame Award (1993) from Indian Academy Of Advertising Film Art (IAAFA)
- Person Of The Year Award (1992) Limca Book Of Records
- Gold medal (1991) from Indian Society Of Advertisers (ISA)
Quotes by Ameen Sayani
“My listeners are like family. I may be reaching out to multitudes but i speak as though i am talking to just one individual.”
“These days most of the presenters are working live. I appreciate some of them but most of them waste time in talking on frivolous things which do not mean much.”
“Today, though i regret denying him (Amitabh Bachchan) an audition, i realise that what happened was for the best for both of us. I would have been on the streets and he would have got so much work on radio that Indian cinema would have lost its biggest star.”
“I can be soft and still be entertaining. I changed my style. But till today, I find lots of people using it, so i feel a little guilty about starting this.”
“In early 1950s, All India Radio (AIR) had stopped broadcasting Hindi film music. It was a mad decision, which hit AIR very badly and Radio Ceylon, which was still finding its ground in the radio industry, came up because of that.”
“Before i got married, one day, my wife had stumbled upon my radio show and did not like my talking style such that she requested my brother-in-law to turn off the radio.”
Ameen Sayani even today, remains the most favourite radio announcer of the masses. He is the most imitated announcers and his style is taken as the gold standard in radio announcements.
Written By: Raj Kumar Hansdah