- Birth Date: 19 Sep 1958
- Birth Place: Bengal
There is something about his eyes... Lucky Ali, the light-eyed singer, has successfully emerged from the shadow of his illustrious father - comedian Mehmood with his soulful, mellow music.Born under the name 'Maqsood Mehmood Ali', Lucky Ali stepped into music completely by chance. It may sound unbelievable, but Lucky first used to breed race horses in the US. Then later on he sold carpets in his friends' showroom, and even worked in an oil rig in Pondicherry!
Lucky, born Maqsood Ali Khan, is the second of Mehmood's eight children. He also happens to be the nephew of Meena Kumari, one of the great actresses to grace the Indian screen.
Half-Bengali and from a family that has been in the industry for years, he did not lack the requisite opportunity to make his debut as an actor. "As far as doing something was concerned," says Lucky, "I always assumed I would be an actor. As did the people around me." And act, he did. First, in Shyam Benegal's Trikaal, where he played Erasmo, the young Portuguese doctor who comes home to get married. He worked with Benegal again in Discovery of India, in which he played Ashoka's brother Tissa, who was instrumental in drawing him towards a path of non-violence.
His first composition was a three-chord lament called 'Nobody Loves Me'. Pretty pessimistic for a boy named Lucky. Lucky Ali was gifted a guitar at age 13. He taught himself to play it.From music it went to horses, and then to acting, and direction, further on tor roughnecking on the rigs, to washing carpets finally returned to music.
Mehmood being in the film industry, music directors and singers constantly dropped in to meet him and thatís when the music bug bit him. Although Lucky was interested in music, he never dreamt that he'd take it up seriously. There was a stage when he was so fed up that he even smashed his guitar and said thatís it! But music eventually came back to him, and when he realised he was made for it, he didnít stop it from coming any longer. Although he had no earlier formal training, Lucky finally decided to pursue music as his career as he felt it came naturally to him.
Lucky used to jam with Mike McCleary, his brother-in-law pretty often. Even though they did it just for fun and never thought of releasing an album, they kept recording their tracks. When they finished recording ten tracks, they wanted to see if anyone was interested in releasing them as an album. They started approaching music companies in both India as well as England, but since no one wanted to take a risk, they wanted the album for free, and would give them a contract only if the album did well. Lucky was confident of his music and knew his songs would do well. He finally got a contract and realeased his debut album called 'Sunoh'. It was 1996. An Indian song, an egyptian mystery, bright blue eyes behind a burkha and the promise of a man who would take Indian pop out of the rut it was in. (Incidentally, they were short on cast, so the woman you barely see is actually Lucky Aliís New Zealander wife.) Sunoh lived up to itís reputation. Songs like 'Pyar Ka Musafir' and the title track itself, with their minimalistic arrangements, relied on simple melodies and the purity of Luckyís voice. Not only did 'Sunoh' do well and sell over four lakh copies, but it established Lucky as a pop singer and catapulted him to fame! The album won him several awards including Best Pop Male Vocalist at the 1996 Screen Awards and the Channel V Viewersí Choice Award (1997). 'Sunoh' stayed on the MTV Asia Charts for over 60 weeks! BMG Crescendo, the label under which Sunoh has hit the market, claims that the album has already sold over 100, 000 copies. It did especially well in Delhi and Calcutta, with a predominantly female fan following.
Luckyís second album, Sifar released by Sony music in 1997 didnít fare as well.The album is a journey into the human soul, and starts from the beginning, which is why he called it 'Sifar'. Each song speaks of discovery and birth. Launched with another landmark Mathai video (this time featuring the American iconic Route 66), the first release, 'Yeh bhiÖ(?)' was a beautiful song about the road well travelled and that sudden sense of dťjŗ vu. Maybe it was too much for the spoon-fed Indi pop audience. Maybe Luckyís luck had temporarily run out.
He makes a big deal of the fact that he sings not in English or Urdu or Hindi - the three languages he is comfortable with otherwise - but in Hindustani. "Hindi is," in Lucky's opinion, "a Sanskritised and sanitised version of Hindustani." Most of Lucky's songs are lilting melodies and the lyrics - though not as meaningless as other pop stars. What Lucky does instead is to sing lighthearted, pretty songs that are upbeat and reflect the new found hope and peace that he feels in his life today.
Lucky also made it big as a playback singer with his first foray into films. 'Kaho Naa...Pyaar Hai', his debut effort, had him singing two numbers for Rakesh Roshan, the music director... 'Ek pal ka jeena' and 'Na tum jaano na hum'. Both his songs did really well, and 'Na tum jaano na hum' also won Lucky his first Filmfare award for best male playback singer.
Marriage, proved to be a stabilising influence to lucky Ali. His wife, Masoom, who features in the video of his first released song 'O Sanam, is a NewZealander who, it seems, has embraced Islam and the purdah with equal fervour. Lucky, today, is a keen Muslim and his faith is apparent in his choice of name for his son Ta'Awwuz. He is now settled in Oakland, New Zealand, where he farms potatoes in between working on his new album.
Lucky, the God-fearing and unassuming man that he is, maintains his unique, easygoing soulful ballad style. Each of his songs mean something to him, and his videos seem as if he's searching for something all the time. Lucky Ali has come a long way... from working in an oilrig to making music, and now, being on the verge of a new beginning. He's finally found what he was looking for and is heading in the right direction. In 'Aks' (which means reflection), his latest album yet, Lucky tends to give this very message to the masses.
In more recent times, he also acted in the television serial, Zara Hatke. Shyam Benegal remembers Ali as keen and hardworking. He not only acted in Benegal's projects, but also assisted the director when he was making Susman. "Lucky," recalls Benegal, "was a good actor but could not get into Hindi commercial cinema because, in those days, he had one leg in movies and one in music." Lucky, apparently, used to sing on the sets but was never taken seriously. Recently he has acted in a commercial Hindi Cinema 'Sur' that earned him accolades as an actor.