India's Radio King, Ameen Sayani: Voice Of Geetmala, Amitabh Bachchan's Audition, Worked For Gandhi

The iconic radio presenter, Ameen Sayani passed away at 91. Here's all you need to know about India's radio king, who was popular across the Indian subcontinent for his show, 'Binaca Geetmala'.


By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:


India's Radio King, Ameen Sayani: Voice Of Geetmala, Amitabh Bachchan's Audition, Worked For Gandhi

Ameen Sayani was one of the world's greatest radio presenters, and in India, he was known by the title 'King of Radio'. Courtesy of his show, Binaca Geetmala, he gained immense recognition and fame across the Indian subcontinent. It was on February 20, 2024, when Ameen Sayani passed away at the age of 91. It was his son, Rajil Sayani, who confirmed the heartbreaking news of his father's demise in a conversation with the Indian Express.

Sharing the reason behind his father's death, Rajil Sayani revealed that his father, Ameen Sayani suffered a heart attack, after which he was rushed to HN Reliance Hospital in Mumbai. Unfortunately, despite doctors' best efforts, they couldn't save his father. As soon as the news of Ameen Sayani's death surfaced on the internet, millions of people started mourning the loss of India's radio king.

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Ameen Sayani's journey as a radio presenter: From All India Radio To Radio Ceylon

Ameen Sayani was born on December 21, 1932, in Bombay (now Mumbai). After completing his education at Scindia School, Ameen completed his graduation from St. Xavier's College. Right from an early age, Ameen was a bright student, and it was his brother, Hamid Sayani, who introduced him to All India Radio, Bombay. Ameen participated in a series of English programmes for over 10 years that made him understand the technicalities of the radio industry.

At All India Radio, Ameen Sayani worked on a series of shows like S. Kumars Ka Filmi Muqaddama, Filmi Mulaqaat, Saridon Ke Saathi, and many more. Courtesy of his shows at All India Radio, Ameen Sayani made AIR popular nationwide. In the coming years, Ameen Sayani even got the chance to work as a radio presenter in a series of shows like Bhoot Bangla, Teen Devian, Boxer, and Qatl.

India's 'Radio King', Ameen Sayani's iconic opening line, 'bhaiyon aur behno'

It's true that Ameen Sayani made a huge impact at All India Radio, but it would be fair to say that it was Radio Ceylon that brought him immense success and fame across the Indian subcontinent. Ameen Sayani's show, Binaca Geetmala, which started broadcasting in 1952, ran for over 42 years, earlier on Radio Ceylon and later on All India Radio. The opening line of Ameen Sayani, "Namaskar bhaiyon aur behno, main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon", simply became a part of so many people's lives.

Talking about Ameen Sayani's radio career, he has compiled and produced over 54,000 radio programmes and 19,000 jingles or spots since 1951. At the peak of his career, Ameen also did a lot of international radio shows like Mini Insertions Of Filmstar Interviews on BBC, Veetee Ka Hungama on Sunrise Radio, Geetmala Ki Yaaden on Radio Ummul Quwain, Ye Bhi Changa Wo Bhi Khoob on Radio Asia, and many others.

When Ameen Sayani refused to take Amitabh Bachchan's audition for All India Radio

Everyone is aware of the fact that Bollywood superstar, Amitabh Bachchan was rejected by All India Radio in the initial years of his professional journey. The man whom AIR rejected for the quality of his voice is now every director's top choice regarding voiceovers. Only some people are aware of the fact that when Amitabh Bachchan was trying to give an audition at All India Radio he was told to go back and come with an appointment thrice by the radio king, Ameen Sayani.

In an interview with PTI (Press Trust of India), Ameen Sayani addressed the speculations that he was the one who rejected Amitabh Bachchan. Sharing the truth behind the rumours, Ameen Sayani clearly stated that back in those times, he was working on 20 different shows a week and barely used to go to his home. Thus, when a young Amitabh Bachchan came to All India Radio to give an audition without having an appointment, he told his receptionist to tell Amitabh to come with an appointment. The radio presenter admitted that it had happened three times, and due to the heavy workload, he couldn't take Big B's audition. He said:

"One day, a young man named Amitabh Bachchan walked in without an appointment for a voice audition. I had not a second to spare for this thin man. He waited and left and came back a few more times. But I could not see him and kept telling him through my receptionist to make an appointment and come."

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Further, in the same interview, Ameen Sayani admitted that he regretted denying Amitabh Bachchan an audition but also added that it was a call of destiny. The radio presenter explained that if he had taken Amitabh Bachchan's audition, the latter would have been so successful in the radio industry that he had to be on the streets. Also, the Indian film industry would have lost its biggest star. Ameen Sayani said:

"Today, though I regret denying him 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."

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Ameen Sayani worked for Mahatma Gandhi with his mother, Kulsum Patel, who was a freedom fighter

Another interesting anecdote from Ameen Sayani's life is the not-so-known fact that he is the son of famous freedom fighter, Kulsum Patel. According to a report in Zee News, Kulsum Patel worked under Mahatma Gandhi and even represented India at multiple international forums related to education. Kulsum Patel published a magazine named Habar from 1940 to 1960 in three different languages, Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati, as per Mahatma Gandhi's instructions. The idea behind it was to unite people with different languages. When Kulsum Patel started this magazine, her son, Ameen Sayani was just eight years old, but he used to help his mother.

In the coming years, as he grew young, Ameen Sayani got heavily involved in the creation of the magazine while taking care of Mahatma Gandhi's ideas and demands. It was back in 2009 when Ameen Sayani was bestowed with the Padma Shri award for his incredible contribution to the radio industry. Despite being one of the greatest radio presenters in the world, Ameen Sayani never let success sit on his head, which is one of the many reasons why millions of people across India were in tears after learning about his demise.

No matter how many decades go by, Ameen Sayani's legacy will keep on inspiring budding radio presenters across the world. What do you think? Let us know.

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