“I am not a singer. I’m not even a musician,” says Lucky Ali. His effort in downplaying his musical credibility is tangible, perhaps the reason being the artiste’s involvement in environmental causes. He says the experience is “spiritual”. One wonders whether this passion arises from the love that he shares for his country. Ahead of Republic Day, Lucky Ali lets HT peek into the cause-oriented and the glam-devoid side of him.
You happen to be one of the most popular environmentalists in our country…
I like to clean up stuff. I like to jhadu maro (sweep; laughs). Wherever I find dirt, my nature demands that place to be clean. And nature has a way of bringing together like-minded people. We started [our environmental work] at one of the dirtiest areas in Bangalore. We convert trash to CNG, which is wealth these days. We should be focusing on eco-friendly ways to sustain ourselves. And honestly, what do you do after all the name and fame. What is it that makes you tick? Cleanliness makes me tick. I believe cleanliness is close to spirituality.
Rumours suggest that you are actively reinventing your music...
I performed some of the songs that I have been performing since many years, at the Eat Play Love concert. Since January, we are in the process of playing these songs in a different manner, as people attend music festivals because they wish to experience a difference. We are aiming to create that.
Several artistes, as part of their reinvention, tend to introduce electronic music into their songs. Is that the way forward for you too?
EDM, dubstep, etc. are the expressions of the present generation. Youngsters don’t want to leave the values of the past. Yet they don’t fear experimenting with sounds of the future. So, that’s a perfect chemistry for people who like to make music. This is a great phase for people who are serious about music.
You are not a trained singer...
Actually I’m not a singer. I’m not even a “musician” if you call it that, because it [music] comes to me naturally. I enjoy it. I enjoy the people I work with. They are good people and I learn a lot from them. I find it peaceful to be around people like them. I am grateful to the almighty that I’m not in any other field. Because one has to bear many burdens in those fields. One has to live up to a particular image. However, here, it’s just about the music. At the end of the day, if your last note was wrong, you correct it the next time.
Watch: Lucky Ali’s song, Tere mere saath
You are a family man, but a very unorthodox one...
Yes, I am a family man but not in the given sense. I am not a dad who wakes up in the morning, makes breakfast for the kids and drops them to school. I haven’t had the opportunity to be that kind of a father. There are things in Bangalore that I need to take care of, which take up most of my time and my earnings.
Also, when you are dealing with people, who are not concerned about the environment, they have a short-term thinking. They end up making a mess of nature and society. When you deal with such people, everything takes a back seat including your music and your family life. These are certain things that mad men like me, have to go through.
You do not believe in conventional way of parenting too. Your kids were home schooled…
Home education is good if you are isolated, when it is difficult to get to places and you have an internet connection. But these children are very shy. And they don’t know much of the world outside. But they are intelligent children as they see things from a different perspective. It has its benefits but like everything else has a downside too. Classroom education is for those whose father has a big car. It’s not fun anymore. Fortunately, my father (late comedian-actor Mehmood Ali) protected me from that. And so I have been conscious about how I raise my children.
Do your children join you in musical endeavours?
I have five children — Ta’awwuz, Tasmiyah, Sara, Raiyaan and Dani. All of them jam with me. All of them ideate and they have their own space. They are their own people. They are not bogged down by family or expectations that one has from a child, to become an actor or a singer. They have to simply focus on being the best that they can be. I believe my kids are down to earth.
You’ve been quoted as saying “let us leave a clean planet for our children”. Is being an environmentalist your way of contributing to it?
It’s never one person’s efforts. Many people have initiated efforts and we shouldn’t belittle that. We need to be serious about the resources that we possess, as they are limited. The West seems to understand that and is trying very hard [not to] destroy resources, but yet is. We’re still organic in that sense. We are not that buggered up. We haven’t messed up our land and rivers.
How are we better off than the rest of the world?
I’ve travelled to many places and I can say that what we have here is unique. The strength of humanity is here. There is acceptance, understanding, stoic-ness. I am grateful to the almighty for being born here, in this country. With the kind of people that we have today, it is a blessing. We are not messed up, like the rest of the world. Yes, we have our issues. However, those issues can be solved with dialogues, education, and without kneejerk reactions. Only a few of our statesmen are statesmen in the true sense. I wouldn’t call them politicians.
So what do you long for then?
I hope I can take a chutti (holiday). I really need a that. I wish someone can take this [my work] over.
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The author tweets @iamsusanjose