Heartfelt tribute to the magician of voice, late Ameen Sayani

The news of Ameen Sayani’s demise in the WhatsApp message box, early in the morning  wrenched my  heart. When I called his Old associate, Shri Ved Prakash Srivastava ji,

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The news of Ameen Sayani’s demise in the WhatsApp message box, early in the morning  wrenched my  heart. When I called his Old associate, Shri Ved Prakash Srivastava ji, he  also sounded devasted. He said, "All my very dear persons are slowly leaving me. Amin ji  also left , leaving behind a legacy of memories for me. What can I say. Those were golden days when I met  him, he was an established host and anchor in the world of the radio and film industry, and I was a young writer. To be honest, he was a surveyor of radio programmes. In those days, my elder brother, the famous lyricist Shiv Kumar Saroj, who himself was a famous announcer of Radio Ceylon and was famous for his struggle to establish, radio station as the leader of airways in the entire Indian subcontinent, introduced me to Amin Bhai.  My elder brother was a friend of Amin Bhai. And then, due to my friendship with Amin Bhai, I used to write the program and Amin Bhai used to present it in his magical voice. We worked together in many programs in which S Kumar's filmi mukadma ' became very famous. I remember, I used to do interviews with big stars, write it down properly and Amin Bhai would present it in the form of an interview and ask questions to those Bollywood stars. Amin Bhai and we had called the top stars of that time for S Kumar's filmi mukadma.' Amin Bhai used to program on whatever I would write. Shatrughan Sinha, Anil Dhawan, Bappi Lahiri, Padmini Kolhapure, Sudhir, Asit Sen, and so many other stars were brought." Ved ji told that Amin Bhai was the messiah of the struggling people. Whoever came to him asking for help, He definitely helped them. In those days his office was on the floor above Regal Cinema. Actually, the entire upper floor of Regal Cinema belonged to Radio Ceylon, but later Radio Ceylon sold the entire office, leaving only the part where Amin Bhai used to sit.

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One day when Amin Bhai and I were discussing a script, a boy came there. As soon as he met Amin Bhai, he said that he was a writer and  wanted some writing work.  Amin Bhai looked at him carefully from top to bottom, the boy looked troubled and in bad condition. Amin Bhai gave him a topic, paper, pen and a table and asked him to write something on that topic. The boy wrote a few pages and gave it. Amin Bhai gave him a good amount of money for writing the article and the boy went away happily. I asked, Amin Bhai, you didn't even see what the boy wrote, then how did you give the money?  Amin Bhai said with a smile, "I actually wanted to help him but how can I give money to someone without getting him to do the work, his honor might be hurt that I gave him money for alms . So I casually asked him to write something. And gave money in return. The topic on which I had asked him to write was not an assignment at all, nor did I need that article."  I was overwhelmed to hear this and then realized how big his heart was." Referring to another incident, Ved ji said, "I had written the interview of actress BhagyaShree for the last time for S Kumar's filmi mukadma and gave it to Amin ji.


But by then, S Kumar program was no longer being aired. Bhagya Shree's interview program could not be taken. Within few days, I  forgot all about this. But after a long time, suddenly Amin bhai sent me my remuneration for the Bhagayashree matter. I asked, "bhaisahab, the program was not broadcasted , then how about this money?" Amin Bhai said, "It was not broadcast, but there was no lacking in your hard work. Everyone should get the fruits of their hard work." Amin Bhai was also very funny, once someone came to interview him, that journalist said that he knew a lot about Amin Bhai and had come to interview him after doing his homework. Amin Bhai immediately asked him , “Okay, tell me, while I start a program, what do I start by saying?” " That journalist also answered with full confidence, "You say," brothers and sisters", Amin ji quickly retorted , "You don't know anything about me, I always start the program by saying sisters and brothers, not brothers and sisters." The journalist was ashamed but Amin bhai quickly made the journalist comfortable and also gave him an interview. He respected women a lot.
I asked Ved ji whether he had met Amin ji recently? Ved ji said, “I am also over 73 years old, I have problem in my legs, I cannot walk far, but I had gone to meet him four years ago, and when I met him he gave me the royalty money received for writing many of my programs, I was shocked and asked, "What is this?" He said, "I was not able to give you the royalty money for many of your articles, this is the same." I was surprised that he did not forget such old things and accounts. There was the same radiance on his face, the same velvety richness in his voice, the same charm, the same smile, only the addition was a stick in his hand, and a hearing aid in his ears. Also his body was slightly bent."


Ved Prakash Srivastava is today a very well-known personality of Bhayender, Mira Road and Thane. Politically also he is respected far and wide. When he invited Amin Bhai to the silver jubilee of his own magazine, 'Meera Bhayender Darshan' Amin bhai was very happy. He Blessed me a lot, kept looking at the magazine for a long time. But he could not come. His memory had definitely become a bit blurry, his voice was a bit low but his style of speaking was as brilliant as ever. That's it, that day and today, I could never meet him again. now all my elders are going away one by one." Pain oozed  in Ved ji's voice. And   the atmosphere became heavy with sadness." Ved ji said, "In the 1950s, 60s or 70s, all middle-class families used to gather on Wednesday nights after dinner at exactly eight o'clock to listen to Amin Bhai's programme in radio."

Considered a legend, Sayani ji's voice was famous not only in India, but throughout South Asia, the Middle East, East Asia and even Europe.

Ameen Sayani, born in 1932, was the son of the parents, deeply involved in the freedom struggle. His father, a dedicated doctor, provided free treatment to poor patients and purchased medicines for those who could not afford them due to poverty
They had  family friendship with Mahatma Gandhi. A
t the behest of Gandhiji, Aminji's mother ran a magazine called 'Rahbar'. Rahbar was published in three scripts – Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati.


While helping his mother, he used to work as a peon in her magazine 'Rahbar' s office, He did odd jobs llike putting letters in envelopes, pasting stamps on letters etc. He also gained his early experience in radio programming by participating in English radio dramas.

When Ameen Sayani enrolled for his undergraduate degree at St. Xavier's College, Bombay, he also applied for a Hindi broadcasting position on Indian Radio. However, when he had to give the oral exam,  he received rejection due to his English accent and Gujarati influence in his reading style. After this incident, Ameen Sayani began to focus on pronunciation and requested guidance from his elder brother Hameed Sayani. Hameed advised Amin to repeatedly listen to recorded Hindi programs on Radio Ceylon.
Amin used to go to the studio every day to learn.
During this time, Radio Ceylon started a program called 'Ovaltin Phulwari', produced by Balgovind Srivastava and presented by film actor Manmohan Krishna. Amin started going to the recordings of the show daily to enjoy music and listen to singers like Mahendra Kapoor, Sudha Malhotra and Kamal Barot. One day, during a recording session, Balgovind  rejected the person responsible for reading the Ovaltine advertisement, because of his nerating style and asked the audience if anyone else could do the job. Recognizing Amin's interest and learning that he was Hamid's brother, Balgovind called him. Happily, Amin gave the test and passed this time.


Balgovind gave him the job of coming every week and reading advertisements. Amin immediately asked how much would be the remuneration? Hearing this, Balgovind ji got angry and said, “Have you gone mad? What do you think of yourself? All you will get is a small tin of Ovaltine." Remembering this incident, Ameen Sayani kept laughing throughout his life.
The person who played an important role in making Sayani a famous person was, B.V. Keskar who was a Sanskrit scholar and master of Hindustani music. Keskar served for a long time as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting of India.

Radio Ceylon was very keen to fill Indian film music on All India Radio. In 1952, the station carried a popular program called Binaka Hit Parade, which featured popular Western songs. The sponsors proposed a similar show focusing on Hindi films songs, they were looking for someone who could write and host the show, as well as compile requests and analyze the popularity of each song based on listener's feedback – all for the sum of Rs 25 per week. No one wanted to do this work for such little money. Ameen Sayani thought that this money was worth more than a small tin of Ovaltine. He just accepted it and never looked back.


And then Binaka Geetmala became a hit. Amin was afraid that his job would be in danger if the audience did not send any feedback letter, but surprisingly in the first show itself he received 9000 postcards from the audience and this number kept increasing. Binaka Geetmala was not the only show Sayani was known for. He also hosted other shows like S Kumar Ka Filmi Muqadama, where he played the role of a prosecutor, and interviewed big stars. But the most famous show that every schoolchild of the 1970s and 80s knew about was the Bournvita quiz competition, which aired on Sunday afternoons.

Initially, the Bournvita quiz competition was conducted by Amin's elder brother Hamid Sayani. However, when he passed away in 1975, Ameen Sayani had to take over the reins of the show. He used to work on radio but his heart yearned for acting.
Sayani always aspired to be a film star and a TV star. He would make his hair wavy and imagine himself as Dev Anand, or wear baggy trousers and imagine himself as Raj Kapoor. Once the producer of the film Saraswatichandra had contacted his brother and expressed his interest in casting Sayani in the lead role opposite Nutan. Sayani was thrilled and met the producer at his brother's office. The producer was shocked to see him and said that he did not want such a modern hero in his film, he wanted a hero wearing dhoti. Seeing Amin's face going pale, the producer offered him the role of a villain or comedian in the same film but Amin refused. He said, I will become a hero otherwise I will not work in films at all . The story of his acting ended here.



Ameen Sayani also entered the corporate sector for a short period and worked at Tata Oil Mills for a few years. He would start working in the office at 9:30 in the morning and continue till lunch time. During lunch break he would do his recording work. After the lunch break was over, he would go back to Tata's office and work there till the evening. As soon as the office was over, he would again start recording. He worked fifteen hours a day. But he eventually quit the job and returned to radio full-time. Ameen Sayani will always be remembered for his huge personality, beautiful voice and world-wide fame. He continued working for the welfare of the society till the end. Even in 2018
Ameen Sayani appeared live at Chaudiya Hall in Bengaluru on behalf of the Rotary Club to raise funds for facilities in local government schools. He was 86 years old at that time.

His dedication and contribution to the field of radio was honored with several accolades, including the "Hindi Ratna Award" by Hindi Bhavan, New Delhi in 2007.

Even though he is no longer with us, Ameen Sayani's warmth, his soulful voice and his humility will always be remembered. He showed us how a voice can touch our hearts and connect listeners together.


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