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Tuning to the timeless voice of Ameen Sayani

Updated on: 04 April,2024 09:37 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Ainie Rizvi |

Ameen Sayani’s eclectic voice continues to ring as tributes pour in from diverse voices of the country. In a conversation with Midday, radio jockeys reflect upon their encounters with the legendary radio announcer

Tuning to the timeless voice of Ameen Sayani

Ameen Sayani at his Churchgate home, surrounded by trophies and film jubilee mementoes marking highlights of a stellar, internationally renowned 80-year innings in the broadcast world. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

Although Ameen Sayani – the iconic voice of radio, may no longer grace the airwaves, his legacy persists. Through his distinguished voice and timeless catchphrase 'Behenon aur bhaiyyon…', he bonded generations together. Today, his influence continues to reverberate in the radio landscape, as modern-day voice experts take cue from his craft.

Recipient of the prestigious Padma Shree award in 2009, Ameen Sayani stands tall among radio legends. His illustrious career, peppered with accolades like the Living Legend Award in 2006, elevated the perception of radio jockeys in the bygone era.

Though his soul has departed, Ameen Sayani’s eclectic voice continues to ring as tributes pour in from diverse voices of the country. In a conversation with, RJs open up about their encounters with the iconic radio announcer and share how they evolved from his craft

RJ Archana – Radio City 91.1 FM

Archana L Pania 

Reflecting on her encounter with Sayani at the launch of Lata Mangeshkar's music album, RJ Archana from Radio City 91.1 FM recalls a time devoid of social media. "Back then, we only had radio and Sayani ji had cracked the centre stage with Binaca Geetmala. I grew up listening to his shows and being in his presence was no less than a surreal moment. He wasn't just a radio personality; he had a remarkable gift for attentive listening!”

From its inception, radio has held a sacred place in the hearts of millions and Sayani's unwavering dedication lent a newfound honour to this timeless medium. “Grateful for his transformative influence, I often find myself reflecting upon the glory he bestowed upon radio,” Archana tells Midday with a voice that sounds like a smile.

Beyond his on-air persona, Sayani possessed an unparalleled love for music, drawing actors, producers, filmmakers and composers seeking his sage advice. His penchant for singing was known widely, setting him apart as a luminary in the industry.

In the modern era, artists like Badshah and Armaan Malik seek guidance from jockeys on their music albums. Archana informs that this trend was pioneered by Sayani, who emphasised the importance of voice modulation in music production. His dedication knew no bounds; he demanded excellence and would panic if his broadcast was delayed by even a minute, remarks Archana.

Sayani's voice, with its distinctive clarity and seamless modulation, resonated with audiences, earning him admiration and imitation from voice enthusiasts. Yet, his style remains unmatched as Archana compares it to the timeless charisma of Bollywood's Rajesh Khanna and South India's Rajnikant.

“As we mourn his passing, we acknowledge Sayani's invaluable contributions to radio. His legacy lives on, a testament to the finesse and prowess he brought to the airwaves. When he received the Padma Shree, he humbly attributed his success to his listeners, acknowledging them as the cornerstone of his illustrious career,” she adds.

RJ Anand – All India Radio Akashvani 100.1 FM

Anand Singh

The familiar voice behind All India Radio's Akashvani, Anand Singh shared a profound connection with the late Ameen Sayani. “His passing has left an irreplaceable void in the world of vocal artistry,” Singh conveys with a wistful sigh.

Singh reminisces how Sayani imparted his wisdom to budding broadcasters at Akashvani’s studios for a week-long program. “His teaching approach was deeply immersive, aiming to instill not just knowledge but also a deep understanding of the craft within his students. His pursuit was to get seeped down into their hearts and come up as a speech through their tongues." Singh elucidates.

The impact of Sayani's distinctive voice transcends generations, inspiring countless individuals to emulate his unparalleled style. His meticulous attention to detail, from the spacing between words to the modulation of each syllable, reflected his commitment to perfection.

Singh vividly remembers Sayani's humility and dedication to his craft. Despite being hailed as the "king of the world of voice," Sayani remained humble, describing his role as a servant to the realm of sounds.

Sayani's journey in broadcasting was shaped by the tutelage of his elder brother Hameed Sayani and Pandit Vinod Sharma. His reverence for his mentors and his commitment to sharing knowledge exemplified his generosity. He would say to new broadcasters: "Learn when you are young but define your own style when you grow."

Shedding light on his working style, Singh reveals that Sayani would first erect the script, followed by rehearsals to fine-tune it and then present it. His language was a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Persian weaved like a necklace of pearls. “In my experience, his voice was God-gifted; it was the divine power that made it attractive.”

Notably, Sayani's admiration for legendary singer Mohd. Rafi underscored his appreciation for musical excellence. Despite Rafi's initial reluctance to engage in conversations, Sayani convinced him to an interaction and Rafi agreed on one condition: the questions should be framed in such a way that answers can be found in his songs.

It was a tough haul but preparations were in full swing. As time would have it, Rafi expired and Sayani's wish remained unfulfilled. Perhaps, there is a heaven out there where Rafi and Sayani are filling up the airwaves with their mellifluous voices.

Sayani continues to affect Singh's style, he admits. People often compliment his oratory skills drawing parallels with the icon’s voice. For Singh, being likened to Sayani is the highest honour, akin to receiving the "Ameen Sayani Award."

“Such people never die - they live in the hearts of people with their velvet voice,” concludes Singh.

RJ Sarim – Senior Producer RedFM 93.5

Sarim Subzwari

Senior producer from Dehradun RedFM, Sarim Subzwari commemorates February 21 as a crucial day in the annals of radio history: marking the departure of a dignitary who left an indelible imprint on radio. Although physically absent, his enduring legacy lives on through the countless voices he influenced and inspired.

Subzwari fondly recalls encountering him in Delhi, where Sayani graced an event titled 'Voice Modulation in Radio' as the Chief Guest. “In mere moments, he captivated the audience, leaving an unforgettable impression. His mastery of hosting candid conversations, a skill now common on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat was pioneered by him long before it gained widespread popularity,” Subzwari credits him with the craft of candour.

In terms of his impact on radio, he played a pivotal role in shaping the careers of budding jockeys and producers. Subzwari informs how Sayani began his journey at All India Radio with English broadcasts, later transitioning to Hindi which marked a paradigm shift, setting new standards with his innovative style.

“Today, many commercial jockeys strive to emulate his effortless and casual style—a testament to his undying influence,” he tells Midday. Subzwari urges those unfamiliar with his work to listen to his shows, recognising them as a treasure trove of wisdom and inspiration for those eager to make a mark in the world of voices.

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