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Ameen Sayani: The Iconic Host Of Geetmala On All India Radio, Dies At 91

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Approximately 70 years ago, the Indian radio underwent a transformation, shaped by the visionary decisions of India’s first Minister of Information & Broadcasting. Ameen Sayani, popular former radio announcer, achieved fame and popularity all across the Indian Subcontinent for his show Binaca Geetmala died on Tuesday. This musical journey began against the backdrop of political changes in 1952.

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In 1952, as the Congress Party, led by Pt. Nehru, secured a resounding victory in the first general elections, Balakrishna Vishwanath Keskar assumed control of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Known for his strong convictions, Keskar’s tenure was marked by controversial decisions, including brief bans on cricket commentary and the use of harmonium in All India Radio (AIR) programs. However, his most impactful decision was the ban on film music from AIR, driven by a belief that it was detrimental to Indian classical music.

Initially limiting film music to just 10% of airtime, Keskar later escalated the ban, sparking public outrage and protests from the film industry. Unyielding in his stance, Keskar accidentally paved the way for the rise of Radio Ceylon, the second oldest radio station globally, filling the void left by the absence of Hindi film songs on AIR.

Ameen Sayani, radio presenter known for 'Geetmala', passes away at 91 |  India News -

Source: Business Standard

With the establishment of Radio Advertising Services in Bombay in 1951, an American entrepreneur named Daniel Molina seized the opportunity to connect sponsors with Radio Ceylon’s programs. Hamid Sayani, an AIR broadcaster, was appointed to head Radio Ceylon’s production arm, Radio Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. (REPL). Faced with the challenge of finding a producer for a Hindi film song program on a modest budget, Hamid turned to his younger brother, Ameen.

The birth of the iconic “Binaca Geetmala” came in function when the Swedish company Ciba sponsored the program to promote their toothpaste brand, “Binaca Top.” Ameen Sayani became the host of Geetmala, capturing the hearts of listeners every Wednesday evening. The program initially lacked a countdown format, but in 1954, it evolved to rank songs based on record sales and fan postcards.

Ameen Sayani Birthday: बेदर्द और नादान हत्यारों ने 'अमीन सयानी' को मारने की  कोशिश की

Source: Mayapuri

The overwhelming popularity of Binaca Geetmala prompted Keskar and AIR to introduce Vividh Bharati in 1957, attempting to regain the audience’s attention. However, Binaca Geetmala continued to thrive, becoming a cultural phenomenon up until 1994.

Every Wednesday evening, millions eagerly tuned in to hear Ameen Sayani’s iconic introduction, creating a bond that transcended generations. The show transitioned to Vividh Bharati in 1989, with the title changing to Cibaca Geetmala along the way. The advent of satellite TV eventually signaled the end of Geetmala in 1994, making way for songs to be shown on television. 

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