Ameen Sayani to HT City in 2016: I'd get 65,000 mails a week for Binaca Geetmala - Hindustan Times

Ameen Sayani to HT City in 2016: I would get 65,000 mails a week for Binaca Geetmala

Feb 22, 2024 12:53 PM IST

Ameen Sayani died at the age of 91 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack.

Known as the Golden Voice of Radio, Ameen Sayani died at the age of 91 on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack. His son Rajil Sayani confirmed the news of his father’s death and the funeral will take place on Thursday. The radio presenter was the host of the popular show Binaca Geetmala.

Ameen Sayani
Ameen Sayani

This is an archival interview Ameen Sayani had with HT City in 2016:

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Ameen Sayani
Ameen Sayani

On working for Radio Ceylon and All India Radio

Although Radio Ceylon was the station that gave me all the fame and fortune in broadcasting, my birthplace of broadcasting was All India Radio (AIR). When I was about eight years old, my brother Hamid, who was a famous broadcaster in English, had taken me to the English section of AIR Mumbai station and got me in it. I became a famous broadcaster in English. After Mahatma Gandhi passed away, I was broken because he was very close to our family. So I told myself that I am naye bharat ka naya naujawan and I will now broadcast in Hindi. Since Radio Ceylon played Indian film songs, it became really popular. I honed my Hindi and Urdu skills and managed to get into Radio Ceylon. After spending some time there, my career took a turn when Binaca Geetmala started.

On his favourite show

The most thrilling is Geetmala. It started very funnily. There used to be a show on Radio Ceylon that used to have a competition. It was in English. In 1952, we were told that there should also be a similar program in Hindi for India. It started as an experiment and used to be a half-an-hour long show. We were told that the person who takes it up will have to produce it, script it, present it and check the mail. I was given that programme because no one else was willing to work so hard for Rs25 a week. I took it up and put all my love for music into it. When the first programme of Geetmala was broadcast, I got 9,000 letters. The mail doubled every week. Within a year, it had gone up to 65,000 in a week. All Indians were so glued to it.

On the evolution of radio

The name Aakashwani for AIR meant the voice of the sky. We used to say that a good radio station is one you can see and not just hear. AIR did a great job in that. Most of the announcers spoke in a very simple, Hindustani style. AIR became an epitome of Indian culture. It moved from tradition to tomorrow, from parampara to pragati, from tehzeeb to tarrakki… But with time, even the music stopped having melody. It became all about bang bang, dhoom dhaam, because it was believed that the youngsters enjoy it. Slowly the tradition started vanishing.

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    Soumya Vajpayee is the Senior Editor (Lifestyle & City) for Hindustan Times HT City (Mumbai and Pune) and writes on music, entertainment and lifestyle.

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