Two towering personalities in their own fields!

   By Vijay Darda | 26-02-2024

Padma Vibhushan Fali S Nariman, renowned for his powerful advocacy and Padma Shri Ameen Sayani, known for his voice

Last week, we bid farewell to two remarkable personalities who made significant contributions in their respective fields. Fali S Nariman, a Padma Vibhushan recipient and a renowned constitutional expert, was often referred to as the ‘Maharshi’ of the legal world. Alongside him, Ameen Sayani, a Padma Shri awardee, was celebrated as the “velvet voice” of radio. Despite pursuing different career paths, both shared a common trait – their captivating voice. It was this distinctive quality that propelled them to unparalleled success. Reflecting on their lives, there are valuable lessons to be leant about what it takes to excel both personally and professionally.

Fortunately, I had the privilege of being in close proximity to both the esteemed individuals and I also immensely learnt from them. Padma Vibhushan Fali Nariman, who was also a Member of Parliament, had a very close relationship with me. He graciously wrote the foreword for my book ‘Ringside’ and graced the book release programme. Whenever I visited his office, I noticed that he was surrounded by an extensive collection of books. His ability to delve into intricate analyses surpassed even the most eminent legal experts.

Fali Nariman, who led a life akin to that of a wise sage, truly embodied the essence of a legal luminary. His interpretations of the Indian Constitution, the fundamental rights of citizens, and the powers of state governments are regarded as significant milestones in the field of law. He was also a fearless advocate who valiantly championed the rights of the common man. In 1972, he was appointed as Additional Solicitor General of India.

When the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared an emergency in 1975, Fali Nariman openly criticised it as unconstitutional and a violation of citizens’ fundamental rights. He had offered to file a petition in the Supreme Court against the Emergency, which was rejected by the government. Nariman expressed his dissent through an article in an English daily and also during a broadcast on All India Radio. It was a big deal at that time to openly oppose Indira Gandhi. His bold actions earned him a reputation for fearlessness.

A saying emerged that Fali Nariman meant someone who is fearless and does not bow down! But ultimately Fali Nariman had to resign from the post of Solicitor General. He faced being barred from practising in the Supreme Court, but never wavered in his commitment. Continuously raising the voice of truth, he will forever be remembered as a staunch advocate of freedom of speech and a defender of democracy.

His son Rohinton Nariman has followed in his footsteps, serving as a Supreme Court judge and Solicitor General of India. In Fali Nariman’s autobiography, ‘Before Memory Fades: An Autobiography’, he reflects on his life in secular India, expressing his desire to pass away in a similar environment. Was fanaticism worrying him? He is no longer among us to elaborate but the question still remains!

Speaking about Padma Shri Ameen Sayani, the legendary figure whose golden voice charmed millions, I feel that encountering him and listening to his voice brought a sense of tranquility. I had the privilege of inviting him to Nagpur for the re-launch event of Lokmat Samachar. Not many are aware of an interesting incident linked to the inception of his renowned show Binaka Geetmala. This dates back to 1952 when B V Keskar assumed the role of Information and Broadcasting Minister in India. Keskar believed that contemporary film songs were veering towards obscenity, prompting him to prohibit the airing of Hindi film songs on All India Radio.

With numerous film song enthusiasts left disappointed, Radio Ceylon, based in Sri Lanka, seized the opportunity and embarked on a quest to find a voice maestro to host a programme called Binaca Geetmala. The quest culminated in the discovery of a young man named Ameen Sayani. The iconic announcement then resonated from Radio Ceylon, with the words, “Behno Aur Bhaiyo, Aap Ki Khidmat Mein Ameen Sayani Ka Adaab!” and the rest is history!

Despite the formation of Vividh Bharti as a separate entity from All India Radio for film songs in 1957, Ameen Sayani’s Binaca Geetmala had already established itself as a frontrunner. Undoubtedly, Ameen Sayani possessed an unparalleled voice, but was it solely his voice that elevated him to such great heights? In my opinion, it was his unique charm and playful demeanour which he conveyed through his velvety voice. He meticulously selected songs and carefully chose his words for presentation. Regardless of the field one is in, paying attention to these details is crucial in order to achieve remarkable success.

To truly stand out from the crowd and achieve greatness, one must possess an unwavering determination to pursue a unique path. By embracing innovative thinking and exerting extraordinary efforts, one can break away from the normal and make a lasting impact. It is essential to embark on endeavours that have never been undertaken before, setting oneself apart from others. Regardless of the chosen path, it is crucial to remain resolute and dedicated. Only then can one truly stand distinguished from the crowd. Let us pay a tribute to the remarkable achievements of both Fali Nariman and Ameen Sayani.

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