Remembering Amin Sayani: The Voice of Radio Ceylon

Amin sayani

Amin Sayani, who passed away on 20 February 2024 at the age of 91, was a legendary radio announcer who captivated millions of listeners across the Indian subcontinent with his melodious voice and charismatic style. He is best known for presenting the hit radio show Binaca Geetmala, which aired on Radio Ceylon for over four decades and became a cultural phenomenon. In this article, we pay tribute to his remarkable life and career and share some lesser-known facts about him.

Early life and influences

Amin Sayani was born on 21 December 1932 in Bombay, in a family of journalists and social workers. His mother, Kulsum Sayani, was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and edited a fortnightly journal for neo-literates called Rahber, which was published in Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati. Amin Sayani helped his mother in editing, publishing and printing the journal, and learned the art of simple and effective communication from her.

His elder brother, Hamid Sayani, was also a radio announcer and introduced Amin to All India Radio (AIR) in 1951. Amin participated in English programmes on AIR for 10 years, and learned the nuances of broadcasting from his brother, whom he considered his guru. Hamid Sayani also hosted the Bournvita Quiz Contest, which Amin took over after his brother’s death in 1975.

Binaca Geetmala and beyond

Amin Sayani’s breakthrough came in 1952, when he was offered to host a new programme on Radio Ceylon, sponsored by Binaca, a toothpaste brand. The programme, called Binaca Geetmala, was a weekly countdown of the most popular Hindi film songs, based on listeners’ votes. Amin Sayani added his own flair and charm to the show, with his signature greeting of “Behno aur Bhaiyo” (sisters and brothers), his witty comments and anecdotes, and his rapport with the listeners and the film industry. The show became a huge hit, and soon became a part of the national psyche, as millions of people tuned in every Wednesday night to listen to the latest songs and Amin Sayani’s voice.

Binaca Geetmala ran for 42 years, from 1952 to 1994, and was later revived as Colgate Cibaca Geetmala for two more years. It was the longest-running radio show in India, and also the most influential, as it shaped the tastes and trends of Hindi film music. Amin Sayani became a household name, and was admired and imitated by many. He also received several awards and honours for his contribution to radio and music, including the Padma Shri in 2009.

Apart from Binaca Geetmala, Amin Sayani also produced and compered many other radio shows, both nationally and internationally, for various consumer product clients and radio stations. Some of his notable shows were S. Kumars Ka Filmy Muqaddama and Filmi Mulaqaat, Saridon Ke Saathi, Shalimar Superlac Jodi, Maratha Darbar Shows, Sangeet Kay Sitaron Ki Mehfil, Swanaash, Music For The Millions, Veetee Ka Hungama, Geetmala Ki Yaaden, Ye Bhi Changa Wo Bhi Khoob, Sangeet Paheli, and Hangamay. He also appeared in a few films as an announcer, such as Bhoot Bungla, Teen Devian, Boxer, and Qatl.

Some unknown facts about Amin Sayani

  • Amin Sayani was fluent in several languages, including Hindi, Urdu, Gujarati, English, Persian, and French. He also learned some Arabic, Swahili, and Spanish.
  • Amin Sayani was a fan of cricket and tennis, and often used to comment on these sports on radio. He also played table tennis and badminton in his youth.
  • Amin Sayani was a vegetarian and a teetotaler. He also avoided smoking and chewing paan.
  • Amin Sayani was married to Rama, who was a singer and a teacher. She died in 2010. They had no children but adopted a daughter, Raageshwari, who is also a singer and an actress.
  • Amin Sayani was a follower of the Baháʼí Faith, a religion that teaches the unity and equality of all people and religions. He often used to quote from the Baháʼí scriptures and promote peace and harmony on his radio shows.
Amin sayani

Amin Sayani was a pioneer and a legend of radio, who touched the hearts and souls of millions of listeners with his voice and personality. He will always be remembered as the voice of Radio Ceylon, and the voice of a generation.