An engaging conversation with singer Lucky Ali on his love, life, passion and beliefs Dr Neha Miglani compiles the dialogue during a brief cover shoot with him….
A promoter of organic farming, a staunch and ardent follower of his belief and religion (he actually devotes lot of time to read his prayers….five times a day!), a sensitive man towards environment, a soil conservationist, a social worker cum reformer cum philosopher…. a singer, a musician, and not to miss the last on the list- a kind and considerate soul!
Words fall short to define the depth and brilliance of his personality and life… Maqsood Mahmood Ali (Lucky Ali), one of the most loved singers of the nation, who, if I may take liberty to quote, has carved a niche of his own and incepted a lineage of music, has a massive fan following base across the globe, and certainly has a rather interesting life and style both!
“Nature rules me,” he declares. His purpose of music- “To spread love!” he quotes.
“I never enjoyed acting. I thought I was just fooling around. It took me sometime to discover what I wanted to do!” he quips. His four-year-long apprenticeship with the noted and celebrated movie director and screenwriter Shyam Benegal is a special memory for him. “He (Shyam) was the one who reaffirmed to me that I was the son of a renowned actor and I needed to be careful with what I chose to do in life,” sighs Lucky. His greyish-white curly hair, with the dawning age now, still makes him look as charming and mystic as he seemed in his music albums decades ago.
“I was introduced to music at the age of five. At the age of 13, I had my guitar. My parents however were not really impressed with me,” he recalls.In a sojourn, spanning trips to various countries, he did some oil rigging, cleaned carpets, did lot of miscellaneous stuff (while finding what he wants to do) when music came calling. He settled and got married in New Zealand when a music company from India urged him to release a music album. “That’s when O Sanam happened,” he says.
He doesn’t really like talking much about his short acting stint in Hindi film industry. “On numerous occasions I felt that the (Hindi) movies always attempted to copy the Hollywood style. I always felt wasted and befooled acting in movies. It wasn’t me. It wasn’t coming from inside me at all,” he laughs it off today as he recollects old memories. His love for Himalayas (and nature in general) is evident when he talks about his trip uphills with his friends. “It is quiet fulfilling to do what one likes. I want to lead a life where I get to sleep well at night. I am so grateful that I don’t owe anyone any debts and this makes me a more peaceful person,” he adds.
A lover of impulsive travelling and a rather philosophical person, that’s him! “People are not bad, it is the situation which turns around and makes them appear like that,” he adds while discussing his Bangalore land row. He was in news in the past for claiming that a builder was unlawfully trying to grab his ancestral farm land (bought by his popular comedian-actor father late Mehmood for his sons) in Bangalore.Having married thrice, his personal life has been an element of interest for the media and his fans alike. “My children meet me whenever they feel like irrespective of my travel schedule,” he adds. So is his family happy with him? “Yes I think so. At least my children are happy with me. They are like friends to me and they point out my follies whenever they feel I do or did something wrong. They are vocal about my mistakes,” he adds. One of the most remarkable things he is facilitating of late is ‘Tribe Nation’, a pilot project based in Bangalore in
which 800 farmers have registered so far. He and his friends of scientific temperament have pledged to bring the plight of farmers to an end… a step towards promoting farmers and bringing organic farming to the forefront. The software application makes it easy for subscribed customers to order organic vegetables and fruitsand get them delivered at their doorstep, and facilitates direct connect of farmers and the consumers.
“The project is limited to Bangalore as of now, and we plan to expand it most certainly,” he cites. So what makes him do all this (the ‘environment social’ work)? While most actors, singers would do social work for publicity… one can see the genuineness in his words and eyes! “We live surrounded by the environment and how can one not think about it? How can one not worry about it? It comes naturally to me. We need to be sensitive about things around us, we cannot remain untouched. We are a part of the nature,” he says. And why organic farming in particular!? He has always seen farmers working on his ancestral farms ever since he remembers; farming concern thus naturally comes to him.
“We have always seen the farmers work on the farms and it was a part of our system always to get involved with them,” he adds. Well, you need to visit his Facebook page to know the philosophical side of him. Lovely quotes and words on life and issues that he posts make him appear unconventional and humane both!
So how does he envision the later days of life? “Well I want to retire! I don’t want to be in the mela (hustle bustle) all the time,” he says adding, “I rather think I have been retired from a long time,” he quips on a second thought and laughs it off! CHILDHOOD, ADULTHOOD, MUSIC & MORE- HIS BIOPIC
Lucky is the second of eight children of the most popular and legendary comedian-actor of Bollywood, Mehmood. Born to Mahelaka, who was half Bengali and half Pathan and also the sister of popular Indian Film actor Meena Kumari, his schooling happened in Bishop Cotton Boys School, Bangalore, Bombay Scottish School, Mumbai, Manekji Cooper Kindergarten (Juhu) Mumbai, Convent of Jesus and Mary, Hampton Court, Mussoorie and St. George’s College, Mussoorie.Sources on the web reveal that Lucky had a very passionate relationship with his father (although the former did not approve of Lucky’s tryst with destiny and perhaps wanted him to work in movies). Passionate in several ways! Since his father was a busy actor in the 1960’s and 1970’s, he had spent a considerable schooling time at boarding schools. A famous incident quoted in one of his interview tells that when Mehmood (his father) and the entire family came to receive Lucky after 10 months (from boarding school back home) at the airport, he (Lucky) did not recognize his father and sighed “He is the film comedian Mehmood!”.
Ali made his debut (for a personal album) in the Indian music scenario with the soulful album Sunoh, and thisestablished him as a singer. His album won him several noted awards including the Best Pop Male Vocalist at the 1996 Screen Awards and the Channel V Viewers Choice Award in 1997. The album stayed on the MTV Asia Charts in the top three for good 60 weeks! The song ‘O Sanam’ from Sunoh launched his career and is considered by some to be one of the best indi-pop songs ever!! His first wife Meaghan Jane McCleary (a New Zealander) acted in this song. It was also nominated at 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. The next music album, Sifar, was well appreciated and loved by his fans and followers for its music, lyrics and vocals. His third album and fourth albums were Aks and Kabhi Aisa Lagta Hai, both of which were both hits.
Ali debuted in Bollywood with the popular song “Na Tum Jaano Na Hum” in the superhit movie Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (2000). He received the 2001 Filmfare Award for Best Male Playback Singer for this song. He was nominated for the Best Playback Singer Male for “Aa bhi jaa”, featured in Sur in 48th Filmfare Awards but lost to Sonu Nigam. He sang in successful films such as Sur (2003), Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), Anjaana Anjaani (2010) and Tamasha (2015). He now hosts jam sessions where vocalists and musicians from across the globe come and devote time to music at his farmhouse. “There are certain unreleased songs….ready and in the pipeline which Lucky Bhai is expected to release soon,” tell his friends who accompanied him to his Chandigarh tour in 2017.
It was because of his father that Lucky’s rendezvous with Indian films started early. His playback singing career began with thesong “Walking All Alone” from the film Ek Baap Chhe Bete in 1978. The film starred Mehmood and his six sons. Lucky was also a part of the film. Lucky’s second song was “Nasha Nasha”from the film Dushman Duniya Ka which starred his brother Manzoor Ali in the lead role and the film was directed by their father Mehmood.
He has worked with top composers like A.R Rahman, Vishal Bhardwaj, Vishal-Shekhar, Mikey McCleary, Prashant Pillai, Rajiv Bhalla, etc
The nephew of Meena Kumari, a legendary Indian actor, and Mehmood Ali’s son, Lucky naturally had all ‘authority’ to make a debut in films. He first appeared in Chote Nawab in 1962, directed by Mahmood. He acted in a few films in the 1970s and 1980s such as Yeh Hain Zindagi(1977), Hamare Tumhare (1979) and Shyam Benegal’s Trikaal (1985). He also acted in the television series “Bharat Ek Khoj” directed by Shyam Benegal. He was then on a long break from movies and was seen in Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante (2002), in which he acted with legends like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Kumar Gaurav and Suniel Shetty. Lucky also acted in the TV serial Zara Hatke. In 2002, he acted in the Hindi musical Sur-The Melody of Life playing a critical role that earned him lot of appreciation as an actor.
Lucky is known for contributing the song “Anjaani Raahon Mein” to the album “Meri Jaan Hindustan” which commemorated 50 years of Indian independence in the year 1997. The video was directed by Mani Shankar, and features him as a young rural man working in a foreign country, with a longing to go back home, and his joy of actually returning to a place he loved.
QUICK FACTS ON LUCKY ALI
Born- 19 September 1958
Genre of Music- Pop, Folk
Instruments- Guitar, Vocals
What he likes- Impulsive travel in hills
Travels with- His group of friends
Religious Beliefs- Strong and passionate
Children- Ta’awwuz, Tasmia, Sara, Raiyan and Dani Maqsood Ali
Photo credit : Sandeep Sehdev, Rajpal Navalkar,Puneet Arora