From breeding race horses to cleaning carpets and working at an oil rig, Lucky Ali has struck several chords before he found his calling in soulful music.
From his unruly mop of hair to the slightly crinkled kurta pyjama, everything about Lucky Ali whispers simplicity. An electronic guitar thrown on the bed of his swanky suite in the capital is a reminder of his mastery over melody. The singer displays deep enthusiasm at the slightest mention of 'music'. He smiles as he says: "It is as if I was born for it. No formal training, no riyaaz... for me, music is a natural extension. I knew this even as a kid, although the manifestation took a while."
Talk veers to growing up in an illustrious household under the aegis of his father Mehmood, the legendary comedian. "Each day spent with him was significant. Today, I realise it even more, when he is no more with us," he says ruefully, continuing , "Dad was often misquoted or misunderstood as he had the guts to call a spade a spade."
Losing himself in nostalgia, Lucky narrates , "I was an independent child because of my upbringing. I was five when my father remarried. Though my stepmother was very kind, I was clear that she was just 'auntie' to me. Only my biological mom will remain my mom."
Moving on, one asks about his academic years. Staying in a boarding school did he miss home and his seven siblings? "Most of the time. But my brother Maky holds a special place in my heart. He was 80 per cent handicapped. I had a strange understanding with him. He passed away when he was 41, but he has left an indelible mark in my life."
On a more upbeat note, Lucky adds, "Then there is my adopted sister Kizzy, whom I hold dear. One fine day, my stepmom came back home carrying a threeday-old baby in her arms. She had found the baby lying unattended beneath a tree with burn marks all over her body. One look at the baby and I instinctively knew we were going to raise her."
So when did music fall into his scheme of things? "I juggled a lot of things before turning to my real calling. I bred racehorses in the US. Then worked as an apprentice with Shyam Benegal in Trikaal. Soon, I realised that to make a living, I had to do something more. After that, I went to Pondicherry where my friend Joe used to work on an oil rig. I worked for a while only to realise I didn't want to be a crane operator all my life. So I chose another profession – that of a carpet cleaner !" He stops, smiling, and quickly announces that it's time for some coffee. As frothy cappuccino and coconut cookies arrive, he continues, "When I worked as a carpet cleaner, we made good money and it was then that I started composing my first album. Dad, till then, was very critical of me. He never supported my choice, as he didn't believe I could make it. I am proud that I surprised him and he was thrilled to see the success of my first album Sunoh."
As you picture his first video in your mind's eye, you can't help but think of the blue-eyed damsel featured in it. His first wife. "Masooma is my soulmate," he smiles between sips of coffee. And how about his second wife, you ask. "I knew this question was coming!" he remarks, adding, "For me, marriage does not mean only a romantic alliance. It is a wonderful encompassment. I'm not ashamed of having married twice. I met both these women, felt empathy for them and decided to be with them."
But wasn't it difficult for Masooma to accept another woman in her husband's life? Lucky clarifies, "When I married Masooma , I made it clear to her that some day I would marry someone from my community as well. She accepted it gracefully. I met Anahita four years later. I felt connected and decided to tie the knot. Though neither of them belong to my faith, they respect it and that's most important." But what is it about the singer's attitude of keeping his women veiled? He clears the misconception, "I have never imposed any dress codes on them. They do wear hijab but it's more of a newfound fashion statement for them. Though I do appreciate modesty in dressing. I would not be comfortable if my women walk around in hot pants while ogling eyes pop at them."
So has there ever been any stress about juggling two homes? "None!" pat comes the reply. "Masooma, with my children, Tawuzz and Tasmia, is based in New Zealand, while Anahita , with Sara and Ryaan, is in Pune. We have achieved an understanding," he says.