Two voices, one love – Mohammed Rafi, Ameen Sayani

Back in those days, listening to the radio was a prime pastime with me. There were many radio stations to choose from – the famous Radio Ceylon, the ubiquitous Vividh Bharti and another station called All India Radio, Urdu Service and local stations. Perhaps not as many TV channels as today, but certainly a lot for us folks. I used to sit at my table, my little transistor switched on as soon as I woke up in the morning and continued playing all day long – that is when I was not at school/college. So much so that I caught my mother going over the chair one day and asked her what she was looking for.

‘I am looking to see what glue makes you stick to the chair all day long,’ she replied! How could I explain to her why I was glued to the chair and the radio? That the reason were the two voices of Mohammed Rafi and Ameen Sayani and that I would have happily died for them (I still feel that way). One the legendary playback singer and the other a veteran broadcaster of Binaca (Cibaca) Geetmala fame. Do you know, I always imagined that if Ameen Sayani ever were to sing, he would sound like Rafi! Both the voices had a soothing, caressing effect on the senses.

rafi1

Let me start with Mohammed Rafi. He was the master of all genres – classical, romantic, devotional, patriotic and even drunken songs.  He could play with his voice like a yo-yo – throwing and pulling it back at will and not a single off-key note in all those thousands of songs he has sung. The lyrics of songs of yesteryears were also beautiful, full of depth and pathos, exuberance, philosophy and devotion. And many such songs were sung by Rafi most effortlessly. I want to specially mention his devotional songs, whether bhajans or Islamic devotional ones — I am sure God would have come and stood before him, so evocative they were.

The same with other genres. Who can forget his exquisitely beautiful romantic duet in Taj Mahal Paaon choo lene do and the song Mere mehboob tujhe into which he had invested all his love, the heart-rending Man tadpat Hari darshan ko, and the exceptionally heart touching Parwardigar-e-alam or the naughty Lal chhadi maidan khadi,  and one of the most patriotic songs ever kar chale hum fida from Haqeeqat?

He gave voice to tragedy kings like Dilip Kumar and Bharat Bhushan, romantic actors like Joy Mukherjee, Dev Anand and Biswajeet, rugged ones like Dharmendra and Sunil Dutt, comedians like Johny Walker and Mehmood, even jumping jacks like Jeetendra. It was amazing how they managed to sound as if they themselves were singing, so well he adapted his voice inflections to suit theirs.

I have hundreds of songs by Rafi on which I cherish and could die for, but unfortunately can’t post them all. But for those who want to listen to some of his hits here is one link.

Coming to Ameen Sayani, from the time I got my own transistor in 1970 as a gift from my elder brother, I began listening to the Binaca Geetmala, the superhit countdown show he hosted. Though the songs were not of the same calibre as those of the 50s and even 60s, the programme was worth every minute of its duration, if only for his unique ‘Bhaiyon or behenon,’ before each song.

And so on Wednesdays it was a hurried dinner at home for I HAD to be close to the radio before the castanets sounded heralding yet another edition of the geetmala. I would quickly finish washing the vessels, cleaning the kitchen and rush to the radio.  For the next one hour, I would not move from there and if I needed to, I would rush out during the songs (in sharp contrast to the present day TV, when we leave during the commercials) for I did not want to miss out on Sayani’s voice and comments.

ameen sayani

In addition, I listened to all the commercials and all the programmes that Sayani hosted, which included not only the Geetmala, but also the Bournvita Quiz contest, which he had taken over after the death of his brother Hameed Sayani who hosted it. His English was as impeccable as his Hindi and he didn’t let the listeners miss his older brother at all, so seamless was the transition from one to the other.

There were the other radio programmes he hosted too like Saridon ke Chamakte SitareyS.Kumars ka filmy muqadma which were on my list too. Sundays were devoted to the radio. Incidentally, Rajat Sharma’s Aap ki adalat is not a patch on the filmy muqadma by Sayani, where he ‘tried’ film stars by leveling accusations at them. Sharma’s programme is modeled on it with a judge and all. Sayani’s Binaca Geetamala ran for 45 years starting in 1952 in Radio Ceylon and went on till 1994 by which time Vividh Bharati had begun broadcasting it, creating a record for the longest running radio show. At its peak, it had listeners in the range of nearly 200-210 million per week and he was rated among the top 5 broadcasters in the world. Somehow, he was never as good on TV as he was on radio and he himself confessed that he was not too comfortable in that medium.

Incidentally I stopped listening to Hindi songs in the 80s. For one, Rafi died in 1980 bringing in his wake a host of pathetic clones and for the other, the songs had lost their melody. Even Sayani’s voice couldn’t hold me. Today of course we have the FM and its various RJs, but none of them is a patch on Sayani and his charismatic voice.

And  I have found a way to connect to the golden oldies thanks to Youtube. Oh what bliss! But  I still have to get my hands on the compilation of all the Binaca Geetmalas over the years, which has been brought out in the form of CDs in Ameen Sayani’s velvety voice.

Pics courtesy (Top): www.mohdrafi.com, Bottom:  ww.globalgujaratnews.in

45 comments

  1. […] to have good lyrics and/or my favourite singers. I never went beyond Lata, Rafi (I wrote about him here), Talat, Kishore, Geeta Dutt and Manna Dey. Though my sister’s collection included both […]

    Like

  2. Raajee. · · Reply

    Wonderful post Zephyr. It’s trip down the memory lane of 70’s when radio was the music lovers shrine. Every Wednesday at 8 PM Ameen Sayani’s golden voice was heard through every by lane. Yes! those were the days, when we not only used to wait for the Binaca Geet Mala, but also bet among friends as to which will be the top song of the week.Thanks for the nostalgic trip.

    Like

    1. Alas, I didn’t have anyone to fight over the choti wala geet, but I bet with myself. My sister has told me how they used to listen to it and how in those days in the 50s, songs were not restricted to just 16 weeks. They would go on and on, it seems.

      Like

  3. Nobody today would be so committed to listening to the voice of a radio jockey but in case of Ameen Sayani, lacs & lacs of radio listeners in the 50s & 60s would be glued to the radio to listen to his evergreen ‘Binaca Geet Mala’.He still has that magical voice, a distinct one.
    So is the case with most talented singer Rafi Saheb. Can today’s singer reach his range & pitch? absolutely NO.
    BOTH ARE LEGENDS.

    Like

    1. And since they are legends, were legends in their own time, they are still loved. So many clones of both Rafi and Sayani came and went without creating a single ripple. Today we have flash-in-the-pan artists who vanish faster than we can say their names. No wonder there are millions of fans and thousands of fan clubs for Rafi till today, 34 years after he died.

      Like

  4. Binaca geet mala…you touched the soft chord in my heart. Our whole family was addicted to it. We used to fight about the no. 1 song, that week! Later on, I came to know that my husband also went to his neighbour’s place for listening this prog. Hindi was not a favourite language in his house!

    I have got many many songs in my laptop, thanks to my son and we keep hearing them mostly at lunch. In the morning it is Vividh Bharati and in the after noon too. We can hear many old songs in Vividh Bharati. Ammen Sayani was/is unforgettable!

    I often post Rafi songs in Face book too!

    Enjoyed reading this post. Forgot to mention…I love all Rafi songs in Shammi and Joy Mukherji’s movies!

    Like

    1. Good to know you love Rafi too. But I love the others too, both male and female, if not as much as Rafi but quite a lot 🙂 I don’t listen to radio these days because the kind of old songs they play are all with me. I am looking for rarer and older songs, which I find on Youtube. So Binaca Geet Mala was another thing that brought you both closer, did it? 🙂 For me, it was listening alone, since my parents were not interested in songs beyong the 50s!

      I am planning to write another post on the Hindi film song craze of mine. Hope you will enjoy it too.

      Like

      1. I have done many posts on Hindi film songs! Ghazals too! I seem to have exhausted the interesting subjects now!

        Yes, both of us love film music, Hindi, Tamil and some Kannada songs too!

        Waiting to read more posts about film music.

        Like

        1. Oh, i must read them. I have read some of your classical music posts and enjoyed the clips. I love the very old Tamil songs and have a collection of them too. I might not be able to write a lot of posts based on film music, but one is sure to come soon 🙂

          Like

  5. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……….you brought back all those beautiful memories….those sundays….those mornings and those breakfasts……those radio listening days. Loved it! I kind of lived back so many years of my life while the post. Beautiful.

    Like

    1. It is a pleasure to go back to those days of melody. Today I was watching a tribute to O.P.Nayyar and it was so wonderful. I am glad my post brought back nostalgic memories of yesteryears. Visit again.

      Like

  6. I never understood when Amma lamented about the lack of melody in film music (tamil & hindi) in the 80s which is what I grew up listening. The music of the 80s and 90s was the one that grew up with and identify with, even today. Interestingly while I am able to relate to music from the 60s and 70s (thanks to a kishore & p b srinivas loving husband), I totally do not get the 2000s music. And I understand amma, finally 🙂

    Like

    1. 80s and 90s still had some melody and I can understand you identifying with the songs. P.B.Srinivas is my favourite too, as areYesudas and A.M.Raja. I am glad to have brought the two generations closer with the post 😀 Did you ask your amma to read it?

      Like

      1. True, I love Yesudas too but somehow think of him more as an 80s singer than a 70s one. I guess it probably has to do with me listening to his songs from the 80s before I listened to the ones from 70s. A.M.Raja is good too and somehow always felt TMS was over-rated 🙂

        Like

        1. When singers’ careers span several decades, we tend to have ownership rights for the decades we listen to them, I guess 🙂 TMS was fine but not in all songs. He was king till SPB came to break it. And then Ilayaraja gave rise to many new voices too. It is an interesting journey to go through the playback years be it Hindi or Tamil films.

          Like

  7. The old classics are much better in all aspects than the high on beats songs of today – the meaningful lyrics, the depth and the emotions that they evoke, that certain magic, that innocence and purity is what makes them evergreen and the so called hits of today stand nowhere near to them even! I am a huge fan of old music and prefer the old classics than the new songs on any given day… So, there you have one member from the Younger generation in the fan club 😀

    Like

    1. There would be many like you who would join the fan club, if only they listened to the gems from yesteryears. It was not as if they were all emotional and only full of melody. We had beats, rhythm, fun and frolic in the songs too. All you have to do is to listen to R.D.Burman’s music and some of the songs of Rafi and Kishore to be convinced. Their appeal is eternal because they were made to be eternal and not for instant gratification and discard.

      Like

  8. I felt like you crept into my mind/heart and wrote that post zephyr ! It’s spot on ! What a lovely post !
    Thank for the trip down memory lane…..of songs, singers, music and most of all the good old days of radio !!

    Like

    1. Did you, Chits? Thanks for that. Actually those who share the same passion for the old songs and voices would all feel like that, I am sure. Radio rocks, as the kids would say, right? 😀

      Like

  9. It made me nostalgic 🙂

    Like

    1. Welcome here Aativas, and welcome to the club of Rafi lovers. 😀

      Like

  10. This post is a lovely trip down memory lane. Was never a Radio addict as Dad was more into news. But yes, i love old melodies, lyrics and the the awesome feeling you get when you hear songs from yester years.

    Songs like Munni badnaam hui and shiela come in the category of ‘pop’songs which are just a flavor of the season.

    Even today, its the melodies songs with appealing lyrics that we enjoy even when the movie is forgotten. Like ‘dard main bhi ye lab muskara jate hain, bete lamhe hame jab bhi yaad ate hain’ from the movie The Train or ‘bheege honth tere’ from the movie Murder or ‘Jadoo hai nasha hai’ from the Bipasha Basu movie and more.

    Rafi’s voice is eternal and magical. I doubt whether anyone of today’s singers will ever be celbrated as he is.

    Like

    1. Thank you Abha. I did mention in one of the comments that some lyrics are good, but they still fail to stick to the mind; I don’t know why. But the popular songs are the ones that have the rhythm and beat. Tastes are changing no doubt.

      We had cabaret numbers, which were the equivalent of the ‘item numbers’ of today even in those days. But they were equally good and memorable. In fact, Helen and Bindu ruled the roost in that department.
      Neither of the two voices I have mentioned can be replicated despite there being a plethora of clones trying to imitate them.

      Like

  11. A fitting tribute to legendary voice , no one can forget his voice and style of presentation which made the avid listeners to wait for their favorite programme’Binaca Geet Mala’ year after year. Those born in 50s or 60s knew that he was ‘indispensable’to the programme so much so that The Binaca tooth paste (later ‘Cibaca’) went in to oblivion when the programme was taken off. He made interviews lively, no one can ever forget.And there would always be a request from ‘Zoomritalyya’for a song!

    Like

    1. As people born in the mid 20th century, we share the love of one of the greatest broadcasters of the country. You are so right about Binaca toothpaste! I remember collecting the tiny rubber animal figures that came with the pack in those days. I used imagine them as being made of dried toothpaste when I had been a little girl 😀

      And who can forget Jhumritalaiya? 🙂 Good share the memories with a like-minded person!

      Like

  12. Thanks for the lovely trip down memory lane! I am a fan of both too,

    I wish the announcers/ commentators of today had voices like Amin Sayani- his is truly a ‘golden voice’!

    Like

    1. Welcome to the club Manju 🙂 Just like Mohammed Rafi, Ameen Sayani’s voice also spawned a host of pathetic clones. Even today we have any number of them ineffectually trying to imitate his ‘bhaiyon or behenon.’

      Like

  13. Pratibha · · Reply

    I dont remember having ever tuned to Binaca Geetmala. My father would never allow. But would listen to Vividh Bharti after coming back from school/college and Daddy in office. I always felt that I could solve accountancy problems with ease with the radio playing film songs. But could not convince my father.
    No doubt Rafi Saab and Kishore Da cannot be replaced. But I differ with you on one point. True, most of the songs today are trash and wont be remembered 50 yrs from now. But not all. Most of them have lovely music and although not all, some of them do have good lyrics too.
    The fact is that Bollywood is selling trash because we are buying it. The taste of today’s generation has changed. They are always in fast mode. So, fast music sells at the speed of fast food sales.

    Like

    1. Tastes have certainly changed and in my reply to Alka’s comment, I have mentioned this. The music might be good occasionally, but the lyrics certainly aren’t, except when penned by Gulzar or Javed Akhtar maybe. Like everything else, it is use and throw, I guess. 😛

      Like

  14. This was a great post to go down memory lane……Am also a huge fan of old songs and of course Antakshari …Even now if I play it i can only remember the old songs and never remember the new ones.

    Actually even the new gen seems to connect with old songs it looks like with looking at the number of old songs which are recreated in a new ‘avatar’ though they sometimes end up spoiling it:-)
    Though i selectively like new songs but cant for the life of me understand why they come up with lousy lyrics.

    Like

    1. Oh, the remixed ones! They sound absurd and look even more so with scantily clad models cavourting to words like, ‘Saiyyan dil mein aana re..’ it is the season of the crass and the gross as far as lyrics go.

      Like

  15. Hmm.. was never a fan of Mohammad Rafi. But I do remember the eagerness with which I would look forward to Sunday nights – that’s when my favourite English numbers would play. In an age of plenty – where we can chose from 100’s of channels and Radio stations, we look back to DD and Vividh Bharti with nostalgia.

    Like

    1. Ah, I am wounded! Don’t like Rafi? Well, give me a moment to recover from the shock…. 😀

      The problem with the 100 channels is that they play the same things and how many times can one listen to them? And today’s films have few songs if any and they all sound alike too. No wonder we hanker after the old times.

      Like

  16. aah thank you for the melodious walk down memory lane!!
    we used to also tune in to ‘all india radio’s bombay a’ every saturday night for the popular english tunes on ‘saturday date’! 🙂

    Like

    1. I remember the English tunes too, from my mama’s Grundig gramophone and from the radio on weekend nights at my oldest sister’s house, when my jijaji listened to the ‘listeners’ choice’ programme. But when I tuned in the radio, it was always Hindi film songs.

      Like

  17. This post reminded me of good old melodious days……Rafi is a favorite of my husband.No Munni or Shiela can come close…..music was more poetry and emotions. Today it is more beats and sensationalism.

    Like

    1. I am happy to hear of another Rafi fan. Melody started dying slowly in the 70s, and in today’s world of instant gratification, it is just noise to pump up your spirits, never mind if one can’t remember the tune after a few hours. ‘Who wants songs that last a millennium?’ they ask. sigh.

      Like

  18. What a wonderful post (Errr…as usual!) I remember my mom introducing us to Binaca geet mala and bro and I were pretty much stuck on it for a long time..we got cable TV in our house when I was in college so till then it was the radio which gave us company…I somehow never studied with the radio on..because I would then only sing the song and never study 🙂

    my mama is a BIG BIG fan of Rafi and he even sings like Rafi…I agree when you say that the new songs will never be remembered after 50 years…infact after 5 years…those songs eternal..and guess what my 3 year old also likes them whether its mannu bhai motor chali pom pom pom or o mere sona rey :):)

    Like

    1. I can imagine you singing along and forgetting to study 🙂 but even if that happened, I could afford to do it, since I didn’t have any brain wracking problem to solve, only find out when Akbar ascended the throne, which could be done while singing along too! My boys were rock fans but the older boy loved Talat Mahmood songs when he wanted to relax and the boisterous numbers of Rafi and Kishore too. I can understand your daughter’s love for the songs you have mentioned.

      Like

  19. Radio brings back those days of my life when my home was not installed with an inverter. DESU was in-charge in Delhi; soon they put a regular 8-10 electricity cut, radio gets handy. Sometime songs, sometimes cricket commentary and sometimes even CID. Ah! Those blissful days.

    Like

    1. Even today, when we are on the move and can’t access the TV, cricket scores are got from the radio and FM is bringing back the days of sound waves, but I still hanker for the old time music and voices.

      Like

  20. Loved it Z…i could sense the nostalgia!! How simpler times were

    Like

    1. Simple life, simple pleasures, isn’t it?

      Like

  21. Oh brought back such golden memories. Of finishing homework early to listen tp cibaca geetmala; of shedding tears listening to those beautiful lyrics. Ahhhh.
    I too used to listen to music whilst studying or working, but not anymore. The beats nowadays make my brain and hands work in opposite direction

    Like

    1. LOL the beats really beat my brain to a pulp and I yearn to go back to the soothing melody of yesteryears.

      Like

Enter the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: