Indian singer-songwriter and actor Lucky Ali has always done things his own way, and made a success of it. Being the son of famous actor-director Mehmood, Lucky Ali chose to be a singer (although he has some acting credits) and has a unique, soothing voice that instantly mesmerises listeners. His ever popular song O Sanam (1996) has been trending again.
A recluse who prefers to stay away from 'Bollywood' and acting, at his farmhouse in Bangalore or abroad, Lucky Ali is a part of the Open Up India Concert for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to be held on March 13. FilmiBeat caught up with Lucky Ali to talk about the initiative that will help workers from the informal sector, about life in pandemic and how music can help heal, and his message to the youth. Excerpts from the exclusive interview.
The lockdown and pandemic have been tough for all emotionally and financially. How was it for you and what has been your biggest lockdown lesson?
The biggest lesson during the lockdown was that anything can happen any time. So, if you keep it simple, you are better prepared to meet any eventuality. And yeah, emotionally and financially it was difficult because when you have responsibilities and people depending on you, it becomes a challenge. But it's good if things are not tough and you will never have that challenge to overcome and solve problems.
Has the pandemic led to any alterations in your plans as an artist?
As an artist, I had this feeling that instead of doing a concert or a virtual concert, I should focus on recording my music and putting it out there and expressing my thoughts through music, and that would be my communication.
How can the youth of India help in rebuilding the nation? What is the message you would like to provide them? What role do you see music playing in it?
Music is a feeling and good music is a good feeling. So my message to the youth would be that challenges are there to be met, and one shouldn't be scared of failure. Because if you don't fail, you won't succeed. The idea is to stand up when you fall down and try standing up again - not to give up on hope.
The pandemic has been especially tough for workers of the informal sector and the migrants, for which you have generously agreed to be a part of a fundraising concert for the UNDP. What do you wish to see this effort achieving?
I have a lot of respect for UNDP for bringing about an awareness about the informal sector because, normally people working in this sector may not have a backup plan - they go from job to job. So, an effort like this to raise funds to support the cause is really amazing. I would say everyone please go donate, 'cause every small contribution counts.
In what way, according to you, can music be leveraged to make things better in the post-pandemic scenario?
Music has always been a part of our culture and we've always done music in all kinds of situations. We have a song for every situation, so music will always be a very strong part of our identity. It definitely plays a big part in our daily life. It helps us express our thoughts and is a part of our expression. Music brings together people.
How do you feel about virtual concerts as an artist?
Virtual music concerts have both advantages and limitations. You won't get the same feeling in an online concert as opposed to an actual live concert. However, because of COVID-19, where gathering in a place is not a good idea, virtual concerts are a great means to reach everyone through phones and laptops directly. But we do miss the interaction with the public, playing music with your band and musicians. However, we try to shoot our online concerts in exciting places to make sure that we really are giving off the feel of what our music is trying to portray, and we have a great time doing it.
Your famous song O Sanam went viral again recently and many of your other songs continue to resonate with music lovers even after so many years. You have also managed to make music in the pandemic and released a new song, Sayyaah, in January 2021. Who/where do you seek inspiration from to create these evergreen numbers?
With me, music just happens when it happens. I don't really go out looking for it. For me, it's not like a factory. When there is a good idea, we just put it down and then it works. Sometimes an idea becomes a part of another idea or a project, so there is no given structure. And yeah, I really didn't expect it, it was for an interview and the mood of the people was such and it was a feeling. I'm glad I could be a part of all of this.
What's keeping you busy these days, Farmhouse Music? And what other projects are you working on and are you planning to perform at more fundraising concerts in the future?
Well, yes, Farmhouse Music, which is run by Taawwuz and Mezaan, my son and my nephew, is mostly keeping me busy these days and projects like this (UNDP concert). And my new music, which will come this year among other things, have kept me busy. As for more concerts like this, we have done a lot of fundraisers with the Indian Army, Air Force or in general and we are definitely keen.
We try to help in every way we can and we are glad that we could do it. Since we come from a background of cinema and music, we will end up producing and creating music and cinema. These are all things which are work in progress. Farmhouse Music was definitely keeping me busy throughout the months and I'm glad that the next generation has taken up this role and responsibility that come with it.
The UNDP Open Up India concert also includes names like MTV VJ and DJ Nikhil Chinapa, and upcoming musicians Vasu Raina, Raghav Meattle and Zephyrtone.
Photos: Lucky Ali Instagram and Sony Music.