DANUSKA DA GAMA | NT BUZZ
It was from Lucky Ali that the 90s generation learned of the beauty of love, the agony of heartbreak and the struggle of moving on. And indeed, while he may not have been in the spotlight for awhile, neither can we forget his evergreen tunes nor the man.
Currently in Goa to spend time with his musician son Ta’awwuz, while he works on his music, the singer reveals: “I love being in the Himalayas and in Goa!”
But what about Mumbai then? “I used to love being in Mumbai, but Mumbai has changed; it’s so populated,” he says. Plus, he admits, he couldn’t keep up with the ‘filmy’ lifestyle.
“There’s so much that I don’t understand about Bollywood,” says the singer, who is incidentally the son of the great Mehboob Khan who was responsible for launching many a career of today’s Bollywood stars.
Known for being famously aloof, the pandemic also hasn’t made too much of a difference for him. “I’ve always lived a secluded life, so pandemic or no, pata hi nahi chala (it did not matter to me),” he says laughing.
Preferring to live life on his own terms, Ali recently recorded two songs at a studio in Mapusa which will be out by the end of 2020. “They are songs that I had written a very long time ago,” he reveals. In fact, for him, there’s no hurry or pressure to deliver songs. “It can take me forever. I need to be in that creative space. A song I did 10 years ago has come out now,” he says, adding that while he had recorded it earlier, he believed it was too preachy and needed changes. And so he let the process take its own course. “I don’t think of the audience when I come up with a song. I think of no one. I think of nothing. It’s more about what’s inside me,” he says, adding that he never followed the ‘rules’ laid down.
He also does not believe in sticking to a genre and often overlaps these, refusing to be conformed to one. And while he likes all his songs made till date, it isn’t because they have become chartbusters but because: “I have issues with all my songs. Each one could be better”. “But ‘Tumhi Se’ is special because it teaches us to appreciate all that we’ve been gifted with,” he says.
But songs apart, Ali now has another sphere he would like to explore more. “I now want to recite. Why can’t it just be words or voices? Voices are so musical,” he says.
It is at this point that an alarm goes off on his phone reminding him of his afternoon prayer. And while Ali does not claim to be religious, prayer, he says, is his way of connecting with God, and is a way of cleansing. Touching further on how his community has often been at the receiving end of polarisation, he says: “My community has been given names, but if you look and see it’s not just a one community problem. We need to look at each other as human beings, and share mutual love and respect.”
Preferring to generally stay away from what’s happening in the political world with this regard, he however states that when politicians talk, that’s the only thing they can talk about. “They don’t have it in them to give people the right answers. Unfortunately they have been led down a path that they believe will give them followers,” he says.
Interestingly in a recent video of him singing ‘O Sanam’ he sported a skull cap, although he is known for his long tresses. “My religion doesn’t become any less by me not wearing a skull cap or having a long beard. But what am I to do, if my beard grows I can’t shave everyday, so let it grow,” he says.
He then tells us that the long hair he used to sport earlier had the weight and memories of several journeys he undertook. “I decided I had enough and cut it off. I was so full of the journey that when I came back I wanted to feel thanda (cool),” he says, adding that he will grow it back if he needs to.
‘O Sanam’ also created news because Ali paused when the line about death comes up and people began speculating about it. Quiz him about this and he laughs. “Sabko ek na ek din marna hi hai (Everyone has to die someday),” he says, before adding, “I stopped as I couldn’t hit the high note and knew that the public would belt it out.”
Looking back on his journey, Ali is thankful to his father for pushing him to be better. “My father called me worthless. He told me I wouldn’t even be able to ride a rickshaw. It was his way of kicking me to become somebody. Today when I look back I don’t feel bad. Maybe I deserved it back then or God knows what I would have become.”