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A lucky man at large...

Lucky Ali has sold carpets, bred horses, grown vegetables, cut music albums, acted in films and done a lot more than most artistes can dream, desire or accomplish. His career is going places but he is unsure of where he is headed...


HUMMING ALONG: Lucky Ali finds music in nature.

"WHAT IS Sur? It is nothing but a way to redemption. Why you came on this earth, where are you going. I am not being apologetic about it but whatever name, fame I have got as a singer, as an artiste is because of God. All respect comes from Him. Artistes say that they came up with their best works under a moment of inspiration. What is inspiration? Nothing but a divine calling!"

So, who said our new-age singers are lacking in depth, that they do not have the mettle for their popularity to exceed their generation? Next time you hear someone say something to that effect just whisper Lucky Ali's name into his or her ear. Better still, say Maqsood Ali. After all, that is his first calling. Along the way, he made his own luck and gradually moved from Sunoh and Sifar to Sur. Though Kaante is to follow later this year, for the moment it is all Sur and Lucky Ali, a pastoralist who finds music in nature, is humming along merrily. "Sur was a personal joyride with a fabulous director, a hardworking team and a lovely co-star.""I did not pull any strings. Did not have to. I heard the script and had tears in my eyes. Then I knew that this is what I wanted to do. I think it is a commercial film which will find appreciation of the audiences. Its music is already a blockbuster.I did not have to do much research for the character though I am not quite Vikramaditya in real life." With Sur he may have found his calling, if not a resting place. Remember he has done films in the past, no matter what the promos of Sur and Kaante tell you about "introducing Lucky Ali"? "Yes, it is not exactly my screen debut but my producers felt that after being a musician all these years I am coming on the screen, so it is a kind of a new thing for me." Well, actually, it is not. He starred in his father's production Chhote Nawab many, many summers ago. Then when Mahmood was making Kunwara Baap, he was again drafted for a bit role. The film proved successful and Maqsood, oops, Lucky became the lucky mascot. Hence, Maqsood became Lucky. And has stayed that way. Not that he is complaining. He is not nostalgic about the past; but there is no regret either. "Till Sunoh happened nobody had heard me. The album sold over four lakh copies. From there on things moved better." "Sur has been an emotional roller-coaster for me, at times so draining. But I have enjoyed it."

Talking of enjoying, this man has the knack of relishing every moment of life, every moment under the sun, on the field. After all, he has struggled a while for his patch under the sun, from India to New Zealand. "Agriculture is a passion for me. Yes, much more than films can ever be. I have maintained horses, sold carpets, done farming, even worked at an oil rig. But at the moment I am not decided on what to do next. I am glad my producers have been spending time and energy familiarising the filmgoers with my name. I have signed a couple of films but I don't know what I will do next. Though I have to go New Zealand immediately, India will always have a special place for me. My father, Mahmood, carved out a career here, I have a farm in Bangalore, which gives me the thrills. And then there is music too. My next album Iksoi is to be completed. But I need to take a break for a while and then decide where am I headed." Meanwhile, he will take some time out to answer a few questions in Bollywood in Bobby Khan's forthcoming Kya Main Ab Bhi Tumse Pyar Karta Hun.

As he speaks without too many pauses, he makes even banality appear engrossing. If his voice appears potent, it is because he has something to say. And occasionally if he comes across as an ardent believer, it is because he listens to his Inner Calling. He is just a sensitive soul in an insensitive age, an artiste who is a poet at heart in an age when it is not fashionable to be lyrical.

The integrity of his speech, the purity of his thought is very much the recipe for restoring Bollywood's moral health. Little wonder, Lucky Ali wonders: "I don't even know if I belong here!" The nomad is at the crossroads. A tidy man, who is at equal ease with the sickle and the microphone, he still has a few loose strands to tie.

ZIYA US SALAM

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