Ameen Sayani, thank you


“Every human being has a distinct personality, which must come out in one’s style.” (Ameen Sayani aka “Bahnon aur Bhaiyon” ) 

If you were not a radio type, this blog is nonsense, my gentle reader. Because here I want to remember Ameen Sayani, who was recently awarded the Living Legend Award at the Promax India Radio Awards. It is funny that I should talk about him ‘coz I am not a Hindi speaker. In fact didn’t know the language when I came to know Ameen Sayani in my childhood. We used to listen to Binaka Geetmala though and often the radio jokey was as entertaining as the songs. Believe me, I can’t remember whether we used to listen to the programme for the songs or for him. (Dont blame poor me, I was only a speck in the sea of 20 crore listeners).

It was a time of stars only in films. It was a time when films had come to substitute politics as the chief furnisher of icons. Radio was necessarily the most common electronic media of entertainment; but somehow, (sociologists correct me or answer me) one still cant think of associating ‘icon’ with something on radio, leave alone someone on radio. But be sure Ameen Sayani was nothing if not an icon.

You will know my reason better if I reveal that I was not in Bombay, Delhi, Patna, Lucknow, Kanpur, Nagpur or even Hyderabad. I was not even in a city. I was in a small place in Karnataka where Hindi was as foreign as English those days. But for radio we wouldn’t have known the existence of Hindi, if you allow me a week exaggeration. In that non-Hindi speaking corner of a Kannada speaking region, day after day Ameen Sayani would visit, seduce us into listening to his programmes. Stern fathers who more than frowned upon anything remotely to do with cinema, anything that directly didn’t edify us on matters related to the coming exams, were also strangely made to relax the rules as they were hooked onto this voice from nowhere that gently goaded one to slip into a rhythm; who made listening to speech as lovely as to songs. His mannerisms in speech were always mimicked in the school annuals.

In fact a while ago, may be six years, I was surprised to listen to a student who did a Sayani during a function in the college.

Hit me, I cant remember one other radio jockey; I can’t even remember the name of a radio commentator. Surely I listened to commentary and that too surreptitiously, so all the more reason why I should have remembered a name from the commentators. Nope, I don’t. My sirs and madams, I don’t remember any such name forget their style. See, why for me Ameen Sayani counts as an icon.

Seriously, let us not give much credit to my nostalgia. But it is the power of speech, of a manner of presenting one’s speech that calls for wonder. He perhaps (historians correct me if I am wrong), is the first stylist on radio in modern
India. If one is able to bring one’s voice and speech style to suit to what one is presenting so well, so as to make the two seamless, ladies and gentlemen, (claps) that too for years, then that is worthy of an award or two.

I must thank this piece in The Hindu that occasioned this nostalgic trip.     

2 responses »

  1. We are planning to felicitate Shri Ameen Sayani on the republic day next year on behalf of Mumbaikars at the hands of Chief Minister of Maharashtra. It is to express our gratitude to this great radio icon who ignited our love for melody of hindi film music through his beautiful voice which touched our hearts.

    I was extremely impressed by Mr Kamlakar’s comment on Shri Sayani.Can we reproduce it in a booklet being published on the occasion of Ameenj’s felicitation ceremony on the occasion of republic day on 26th Jan. 2009 in Mumbai ?

    Pradeep Bhide

  2. Wonderful. You can listen to his first volume in a series called Geetmala ki Chhaon mein, now available in the market. I can share with you his essay on the language of national songs, which he sent to me some time back.


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