Hrishikesh Kannan
Feb 21, 2024

Ameen Sayani is no more but the grace of the man and that unmistakable voice live on: Hrishikesh Kannan

The author goes down memory lane underscoring the late Sayani's contribution to the Indian radio industry

Ameen Sayani is no more but the grace of the man and that unmistakable voice live on: Hrishikesh Kannan

Behnon aur Bhaiyon (sisters and brothers)...


We are here today because of what he was and the roadmap he laid out for us. 


There would be no radio hosting and podcasting in its current form without the beacon of light and his life.


Ameen Sayani is no more but the grace of the man and that unmistakable voice live on. My mother would talk about growing up on Binaca Geetmala. My periamma (mother's elder sister) would speak of how when Ameen sir spoke about Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman she would picturise in her mind's eye the onscreen couple moving towards each other with a dreamy look in their eyes. 


My Chiththi (mother's younger sister) would mimic his inimitable style 'behnon aur bhaiyyo'… Yes, it was always the ladies before the gentlemen as opposed to all the other presenters of that generation who never batted an eyelid before putting the man before the woman. Ameen sir was a feminist in every sense of the word! Way ahead of his time. 


Unlike the social media era of today when your idols are easily available for you to see and even interact with, back in the day it was a dream to meet our favourite stars. 


In the 80s my father and mother took part in a personality contest in Kolkata (then Calcutta) where they were working: The 'Wills made for each other' contest was held for couples. 


My mother was beside herself with excitement when she found out Sayani would not only host the finale but also hand over the trophy to the winning couple. The motive to win was stronger than ever before and they did! The handsome couple received a trophy and exchanged warm words with the icon! Remnants of that eventful evening- this black and white photograph that was taken of them with the legend.



The author's parents with Ameen Sayani

I look back at the early 2000s. The RAPA awards (Radio and Television Practitioners Awards) were the most prestigious awards for the industry for decades. It honoured ace radio presenters and quality radio programming chosen and presided over by a jury that included stalwarts like Pandit Vinod Sharma, Pratap Sharma, Brij Bhushan, Alyque Padamsee and others.


I was a strong contender to win the twin honours of 'best radio presenter of the year' and 'best radio programme of the year' one particular year. I was told the best radio presenter would be handed over the trophy and certificate by Sayani and post the awards ceremony there would be a sit-down dinner with the man himself in attendance. 


My parents had moved down South from Mumbai by then but I said it was worth a chance... if I won and received the trophy from the great man, how much would it mean to my folks to see that happen? And what would it be worth to see my parents enjoy a meal in the company of the stalwart they had always admired? 


So I asked them to get on a plane and reach Mumbai. They did and I won! And my parents were able to see their son being felicitated onstage by the father of Indian broadcasting. But here’s the icing on the cake. 


When the introductions at dinner time were made and my mother sat next to him and waxed eloquent about Ameen sir's voice and listening to him for years and years - he looked at Amma and said with a 100-watt smile.


“Ma'am you have heard me over the airwaves for years and years, and now I hear your son on the radio every single day! Life comes full circle. I marvel at this young man's speech, his knowledge of the subject matter at hand, his preparation and clarity of thought. He was made for the radio.” 


My mother shed tears of joy instantly and continues to relate this incident to people. That was Ameen sir. He didn’t need to say it but he did. 


His humility, his warmth and oh that voice - that honey, silken voice. There shall never be another. RIP.


(The author is popularly known as Hrishi K. He currently hosts the breakfast radio programme on 94.3 RadioOne and is also the national brand head, RadioOne Network) 


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