Singer to perform live in Melbourne this September
Lucky Ali has, quite literally, done it all. From selling carpets to breeding sheep, from acting in movies to composing and singing, a debut film appearance at the age of four, then 14 feature films, two television series, finally producing and directing a feature film, Ali’s been ‘lucky’ enough to be able to follow his heart.
Son of legendary actor Mehmood and nephew of talented actress Meena Kumari, Maqsood Mehmood Ali (his real name) says that after pursuing several directions, it is music that has remained his true passion.
Some of Lucky Ali’s memorable works include Sifar, Aks, Gori Teri Ankhein, and Sunoh. Besides, he has sung many Bollywood songs like Ek Pal ka Jeena, Naa tum Janne Naa Hum, Oh Sanam, Ahista Ahista and all the songs of M M Kareem’s Sur.
And lucky for Australia, the lyrist-actor-composer will be performing in Melbourne on 21 September.
He speaks to Shveata Chandel Singh, about his life, music, live shows and of course, the concert in Melbourne…
Do you think your film background influenced you in terms of choosing singing as a career?
I would say it all happened naturally. Having an artistic background, my dad remained my greatest inspiration.
He was very supportive and encouraged creativity. My dad always motivated me to pursue the path I chose. He encouraged me to explore my talent and supported me a great deal. It was my interest in music that drew me to singing. I have passion for it and I enjoy singing more than anything else.
How did you feel when walking into a recording studio for the first time?
Well… My first recording was with my dad for the film ‘Pyaar Kiye Jaa’. My father recorded a song in my voice… Duniya Oo Duniya Tera Jawab Nahi… and that is how I got interested in music. He always encouraged and supported me. As my dad recorded the song and video, I was extremely happy and excited.
I started singing at a very young age, when I used to be in school as a part of extra-curricular activity. I find solace in music.
You have been travelling a lot to perform in various parts of the world; how do you view travelling for the sake of spreading music?
Travelling gives you a chance to meet new people; it opens up new avenues and gives you new ideas. Travelling exposes you to lot of new things. You get to know about the ethos and cultures of various nations and races.
While performing live, you get connected to the audience. So, performing for different audiences is always a great experience. It not only helps you understand different people, their culture, and their thoughts but also allows you to be one of them while performing. Therefore, travelling and doing concerts is a great experience in itself.
You are very selective in your songs, so how do you zoom in to select your assignment?
Basically, our film industry caters to a large population. The Indian diaspora all over the world is connected through the Bollywood, but sometimes it is very shameful to be a part of it.
I believe in composing my own songs, but yes if I find some good song I go for it. Given a preference, I would love to sing for Bollywood but it all depends on the song, and its message.
I just follow my heart; whatever sounds good to my ear, whatever my heart feels is good, I select that song. I don’t really plan for future and the project I do at present remains the only motivation. I don’t believe in rushing after a company to pay my royalties.
I like working flexible hours. I don’t like working on projects which don’t excite me or rushing for recordings. I love to work in a relaxed atmosphere. I believe in experimenting with new things and exploring new creative ideas. This is all how it works. You can experiment and get as creative as you want.
Which was your first Bollywood film as an actor?
I started acting at a young age. My first encounter with the camera as a child actor was for Chote Nawaab in 1962. I played as a child artist for that movie and even sang. I went on singing and did a song for ‘Dushman Duniya Ka’.
You have not undergone any formal training in music. Do you think training would have honed your talent?
Yes, I have not undergone any formal training in singing but I have been around very talented people who always motivated and encouraged me.
Formal training helps you understand what you are composing, what you are singing. In formal training there is so much knowledge of the ragas and sur and that makes singing easier.
Singing always comes from inside but I will say that knowledge of a subject obviously makes it easier to understand. So one should go for formal training in music.
When did you decide to take up singing as a career?
I would put it another way — for me, music is a serious hobby rather than a career. If I have to go to the studio every day, then it is a career. And I do not go to the studio regularly.
I started music as a hobby and I am continuing with it in the same spirit. I feel some eternal connection with music, so I keep working on new songs and the journey goes on.
You were gifted a guitar at the age of 13 and you taught yourself how to play it, so your interest in music dates back to childhood. Tell us something about how all this happened?
My mum gave me the guitar as a birthday present. I was curious about it and wanted to learn it. To be honest, I am still in the learning process.
You have experimented with so many things in life from carpet selling to breeding sheep, to composing and singing. In this entire journey music has always been constant. Do you feel any particular connection to music?
Of course I do. I can communicate with music. Music has a special space in my life as I feel that it is a medium of communication. Music helps you express your feelings and thoughts. So, music has always been a part of my life, my growth.
Any plans of reviving your father’s production company?
No, I honestly believe I am happy with what I am doing. I am not really interested in opening up a company and making films.
You have recorded songs in several languages too such as Telugu and Tamil. How did that happen?
I like exploring languages and I want to sing in any language as long as I like the song. Language is no bar. If a song is good I am happy to sing it.
Do you enjoy live shows?
Oh yes, performing live is a very good experience in itself. We have always received public support for our live shows in India. Wherever I have performed, the public has given me so much love. Performing live is an emotional experience, like a feeling of brotherhood, a connection…
Do you have a song that’s close to your heart?
Yes. But you have to wait for my concert in Melbourne to find out what it is.
Any message for your fans in Melbourne?
Yeh…. I am looking forward to meet you all!!