The veteran musician who performed in Mumbai yesterday chats about the highs and lows of his pitch-perfect career.
At the heart of the Indipop movement in the 90s, Lucky Ali sauntered into the scene with a kafiyeh around his neck and a gypsy attitude up his sleeve, singing the ballad O Sanam like it was the only hope for the lovers of the world. His album Sunoh in 1996 launched his musical career, selling millions of copies worldwide. Backed by the golden age of MTV and powered by his gravelly voice, Lucky Ali withstood an era where pop icons appeared and disappeared on the horizon like quicksilver. Today, the 60-year-old is an era in himself and marks thirty years of his career as a musician.
But even after all these years, luckily, nothing much has changed about him besides his graying mane. As we converse about the highs and lows of his pitch-perfect career, he shies away from discussing the lengthy details and digresses instead with funny rejoinders, “Contextually in my career, I’ve hit all kinds of notes — mid-range, high, low and sometimes even be’sur,” he jokes. His sarcasm is unmissable and hard to keep up with, but nevertheless, he owes it all to his peers and…prayers, “I’m playing with people I love and respect. We are just older from the first time we met and it has been years of going away and coming back to (each other). The music, the association and the way forward are all part of that connect,” he narrates with a deep sense of gratitude. This bonhomie he shares with his fellow musicians is also what drives his work, “I feel their love, and although my eyes are closed, my heart prays that all good things happen for everyone and that I don’t forget my lyrics in the process,” says the artist who performed at the Shanmukhananda Hall yesterday.
Lucky is known to choose his songs carefully because he has to go through “tons of unsurety” when dealing with the industry. While the connotations of that sentence are unclear, he simplifies it for us with the words, “I have to look for notes that touch my heart and words that don’t embarrass me.”
The singer is also an immensely spiritual person, and that is reflected in his soulful, mystical performances. He says “my inspiration comes from meditation, contemplation and prayer” and that the only thing on his playlist is “practice”
His methods are foolproof, as one rarely ever comes across a bad Lucky Ali song. His funda is simple; he believes, “All artists have the potential to excel. The trashy stuff gets trashed naturally and it’s the same for all artists.”
But there is also another formula that he uses in good measure to deliver his soul-piercing renditions. He feels safest in the bosom of nature. “I haven’t released any of the so-called usual ones as yet because I haven’t yet gotten down to thinking that way and my environment won’t let me either. Being unusual, my work also is that way, whether it’s the unusual approach or the unusual timing. I’ve come to recognize that only nature understands and protects my unusuality.”
His love for nature is also pronounced in his proclivity to farming. Right off the bat, his plans involve, “planting lots of trees on the farm and getting the open well covered.” On the work front, his plans involve an Israeli collab album, which will be out in a couple of months, “then I have my own project simultaneously and we record practically every day. Apart from that, I have responsibilities to fulfill and new tracks to develop,” he informs.
Ask the singer to glean out the exact moment that introduced him to the world of music and he hands out a fistful of humor, yet again, “You make it sound like when I got circumcised. I wasn’t really initiated. We are a musical nation and everybody must’ve been musical that day…I know an aunt who sings when she talks…it must’ve been that.”