Millennium Post

When legendary Ameen Sayani failed to clear AIR's Hindi audition test!

New Delhi: Legendary Ameen Sayani started his career as an English broadcaster but when he went for an audition for AIR's Hindi section, he was told after the test that there are hints of English and Gujarati in his accent and he cannot be recruited.

But Sayani was not someone to be disheartened and went on to become one of India's most loved radio presenters.

Scriptwriter Rakesh Anand Bakshi has come out with a new book "Let's Talk on Air: Conversations with Radio Presenters" in which he chronicles Sayani's journey along with 13 other popular radio jockeys including Yunus Khan, Rohini, Mamta Singh, Sayema, Hrishikay Kannan, Anuraag 'picture' Pandey and Anmol.

Sayani was born in Mumbai in a multilingual family on December 21, 1932, and further seeped in a 'Bambai ki khichdi Hindustani bhasha' (Mumbai's porridge of Hindustani language).

"My early schooling was at New Era School, which used Gujarati as a medium in the primary standards, with more emphasis on the English language creeping in from fifth grade on," he says in the book, published by Penguin.

He also started writing small pieces for his mother's fortnightly journal called "Rehbar" that used three scripts - Devanagari, Gujarati and Urdu.

Sayani says by the age of 13, he had already become a fairly proficient broadcaster in English. He started participating in children's programmes on the English service of All India Radio Bombay and then progressed to roles in full-fledged radio plays, discussions and multifaceted narrations.

Due to some health issues, Sayani had to be shifted in 1945 from his school in Mumbai to the Scindia School in Gwalior as a boarder to study for the Senior Cambridge examination, the book says.

After independence and on his return to Mumbai, he rushed to All India Radio Bombay's Hindi section and announced, "You've known me for many years as an English broadcaster, but now that India is independent, I'd like to switch over to the Hindi section. Give me an audition, please!"

They smiled and agreed. "I read my script with great confidence, but their answer was, 'You read well, Ameen, but in your accent, there are hints of English and even Gujarati. So we can't accept you. Sorry!' I was heartbroken," recalls Sayani.

The legendary presenter shot to fame with Binaca Geetmala- the first of its kind show in India. It ran from 1952 to 1994, 2000 to 2001 and then 2001 to 2003, with variations in its name.

Sayani has been aired on various stations throughout the world, from Vividh Bharati (All India Radio) to Red FM, Radio City, Big FM, Hum FM in the UAE, Spice Radio in the US, and the BBC in the UK.

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