Ameen Sayani, iconic voice behind radio show 'Binaca Geetmala', passes away at 91

Ameen Sayani suffered a heart attack. Photos | Facebook, PTI

Mumbai: Famous radio personality Ameen Sayani, the iconic voice behind 'Binaca Geetmala', has died at the age of 91, his son Rajil Sayani said on Wednesday. Sayani suffered a heart attack on Tuesday night and was taken to a hospital in South Mumbai but could not be saved.

"He passed away last night of heart attack at H N Reliance hospital. He was rushed to the hospital last evening around 6:00pm after he complained of chest pain. They tried to revive him but he passed away around 7:00pm,” Rajil told PTI.

Rajil said Sayani's last rites will be held on Thursday. Sayani, whose introduction 'Namaste behno aur bhaiyon, main aapka dost Ameen Sayani bol raha hoon ('Namaste, my brothers and sisters. This is your friend Ameen Sayani speaking) on Radio Ceylon still evokes strong nostalgia among listeners, was born in Mumbai in a multilingual family on December 21, 1932.

He had a creative flair since childhood and started writing for his mother's fortnightly journal 'Rehbar' when he was just 13. During that age, he also became a proficient broadcaster in English and started participating in children's programmes on the English service of All India Radio Bombay.

Sayani, however, was rejected when he auditioned to present in Hindustani because of a slight tinge of Gujarati accent in his voice. When the then Minister for Information and Broadcasting, B V Keskar banned Hindi songs from AIR, Radio Ceylon started to become popular.

Sayani got a chance to host 'Binaca Geetmala', a weekly countdown show of top filmi songs from Hindi cinema, on Radio Ceylon in December 1952 and never looked back. A first of its kind show, the show ran from 1952 to 1994 to massive popularity for 42 long years. With variations in its name, it continued to woo listeners in the early 2000s too.

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