I learnt to laugh at myself from Pu La: Ameen Sayani

‘I have learnt how to laugh at myself from Pu La Deshpande,” said veteran radio broadcaster Ameen Sayani at Pulotsav as he received the Pu La Smruti Sanman Award on Saturday (Nov 12). With a career spanning 67 years in the field of radio, Sayani narrated many tales from his childhood and he even spoke about his popular show ‘Binaca Geetmala’ and about the changes that led to the downfall of All India Radio (AIR).

“Film songs are an important part of our film culture. There is a difference in the music we listen to now and the music that we heard before. The music then touched the heart while the music played now only touches the body. But that does not mean that the music now is bad. We have to change with the times.” Sayani said that when AIR had just started, it was at par with the BBC format of broadcasting, “Things changed when B V Keskar took over as the Minister of Information and Broadcasting around 1952. He thought that film songs were westernised so he banned them and AIR could no longer play such music. All the records that AIR had were broken, thrown and destroyed. There were some other conditions like the announcer on the radio could not smile or laugh while speaking. That’s the time when people tuned to Radio Ceylon to listen to film music.”

Sayani also light-heartedly spoke about his unsuccessful efforts to become a hero in Indian cinema and laughs while narrating a story, “Govind Saraiya was going to make Saraswatichandra and he had called up my brother, Hamid Sayani to ask if he could come and see me to offer the role of the lead. I got very excited and dressed very well. When Saraiya came, I made sure I was dressed well. He looked at me disappointed and said he couldn’t offer me the role. I was really upset but then he consoled me by saying that he would instead give me the role of the second villain or the third comedian in the film! But my dream was to become the hero!”

Coming from a family that was heavily involved in India’s freedom struggle, Sayani spoke about meeting with Mahatma Gandhi and how he influenced his mother, Kulsum Sayani to start a literary journal in Hindi, Urdu and Gujarati. “I was working like a peon for my mother. The journal would get edited, published and printed from home. My mother worked in the field of social education and literacy. Gandhiji had told her to start this journal and she even won an award for it later.”

The man behind the voice that has for so many years kept several ears glued to the radio even explained some important pointers that radio aspirants should keep in their mind, “Your communication should be right. It should be true. If it isn’t true then your listeners will lose faith in you. The communication should be clear. People should understand what you are trying to say. And, it should be natural, with a conversational flow.”

Vijayta Lalwani

Vijayta Lalwani

The young lady from Lagos has always been keen on a career in journalism. Pune365 was hence the right stop. We agree. vijayta@pune365.com
Vijayta Lalwani