The indomitable Ameen Sayani narrating on the occasion of the 80th Anniversary of All India Radio (AIR), the Airing of his famous BINACA GEETMALA, stuck a chord in me. It instantly took me down the memory lanes of 1970s and 80s.
Once a week, wafting over the airwaves, floats in the unforgettable familiar voice of Amin Sayani – BEHNO AUR BHAIYON, AAP KO LEKE CHALTE HAIN IS GANE KO, JO PICHHLE HAPHTE PAADAAN NUMBER 10 SE ABHI PAADAAN NUMBER 6 PE A GAYA, “Dear Sisters and Brothers, taking you to this song which has jumped from 10th position last week to position no 6 this week”.
The program played a plethora of popular songs, flooding the airwaves of our childhood and youth. Those were the nights sans television in Bhubaneswar. We would be waiting eagerly to every Wednesday, to tune in to what would be a non stop one hour feast of music fiesta, commencing at 8 PM.
At sharp 7.55 PM I would elongate the antenna of our MURPHY Brand radio. It was followed by a good 5 minutes of struggling to adjust the vertical bar to the exact location with intermittent bursts of farts from it, CHRRRRD… PRRRRRTT.., before I could finally manage to tune in. It would be a very delicate balancing act, 1 millimeter here or there you get a whole different radio station. The reception was particularly bad towards the end of December, when the special annual version of the program comes as a fitting finale to the year.
The program earlier used to be called BINACA GEETMALA, but soon the name BINACA was changed to CIBACA, popular toothbrush/paste brand of the time (not sure if it still exists). Amin Sayani had a great voice and a unique style of presentation, which would arguably be the best marketing brand that company ever had.
This hugely popular program culminates on the last Wednesday of the year with the ranking of the songs for the entire calendar year. Kishore Kumar and Lata (often their duets) dominated the program those days, though other singers had their share too.
Broadcasted from Radio Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known earlier), come end of December, comes the memories of the Special edition of this program, a time it was invariably a hard struggle to get a clear tone. Amidst intermittent losses of signal and constant sputtering it was a fun nevertheless to listen with ears glued just inches away from the radio, wrapped in shawl. Those were the memory from a different era – to cherish forever.