Bollywood is not for everyone.
Some realise it sooner and tread different paths to make different achievements in life, while others keep trying till the industry throws them off.
In this giant rigmarole of realisations and refusals, we have seen many of our beloved celebs fading out into oblivion, leaving us wondering, “where are they, how are they...?”
This “Missing Report” series digs deep into the untold stories of such missing stars.
Though he became a sensation with his debut album, Sunoh, not many know that Lucky Ali had worked in movies about two decades prior. Born as Maqsood Mehmood Ali to one of Bollywood’s most revered comedians, he was also related to the great Meena Kumari. He received education in various convent schools of Mussoorie and Bangalore.
By the virtue of his many relations in the industry, entering acting would have never been a challenge for him, had he shown any proclivity for it. The hazel-eyed handsome with a honey-smooth husky voice, and salt-n-pepper curls, however, had a riot of talents bustling inside him, and it was never decided or obvious that Bollywood will be his destination.
He debuted as a child artist in the 60s film Chhotey Nawab, and essayed supporting roles in a few more flicks through the 70s and 80s, namely Yeh Hain Zindagi, Humare Tumhare and Trikaal. But it was not till the mid-90s that he came to the limelight as a megastar, albeit, in a totally different field of work.
An artist of aristocratic bearing had every trait of a rockstar, Lucky Ali revolutionised the Indian pop music industry which didn’t have much beyond Alisha Chinai’s Made in India to boast about.
In 1996, he tasted mammoth success and found world renown with his debut album Sunoh. The music video of ‘O Sanam’, shot amidst the pyramids and golden sands of Egypt, capturing rushes of life unexplored by Bollywood’s cameras, saw phenomenal success and took the industry by storm. The song itself ruled the MTV Asia Charts for 60 weeks, making the singer the Best Pop Male Vocalist at the Screen Awards in 1996. Ali also bagged the 1997 Channel V Viewers’ Choice Award and Best Pop Male Vocalist at the 1996 Screen Awards for his fluid vocals.
In the Indian pop scene, Lucky Ali was now huge. In 1997, when India celebrated 50 years of independence, his composition ‘Anjaani Raahon Mein’ for the album Meri Jaan Hindustan gained rave reviews again. Within a year, he was ready with yet another masterpiece. Sifar was magnificent and left music lovers awestruck with his notes, lyrics, and vocal richness. Director Mahesh Mithai assured all the music videos moved the audiences to their core.
Lucky Ali and Mahesh Mithai created a record with their third album together, Aks in 2000. Kabhi Aisa Lagta Hai (2004), Xsuie (2009), and Raasta Man (2011) were his subsequent albums, some found roaring success and others did well.
In 2002, after decades since his last appearance in cinema, Lucky Ali returned to Bollywood to star in Sanjay Gupta’s multi-starrer, Kaante. He shared the limelight with heavy-weight actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, and the returning Kumar Gaurav. The same year, he was seen in another musical, Sur – The Melody of Life, a love story framed with him as the protagonist. The same time around, he acted in the TV serial Zara Hatke.
It’s been around nine years since his last album and longer since his cinema appearances. Where is he?
He has ventured into farming and come up with an ethical e-commerce website, Tribe Nation. Through this initiative, he strives to give the farmers the right return for their produce, while keeping it reasonable for the customers as well. A lot of this produce is grown in his Bangalore-based farm, from where he sells them directly to his customers at an unbelievably discounted rate.
But again, there is no reason to think that he has given up on music. That can never happen as music is what his soul keeps running on. Though he is not the archetypical Bollywood music director, he composed music for Yuva (2004), Bachna Ae Haseeno (2008), Paathshaala (2010), Anjaana Anjaani (2010), and the more latest Tamasha (2015).
But these days he keeps himself busy with concerts and meeting his fans live, without the barriers of screens. He often collaborates with music bands for such live-in concerts, the Bangalore-based Low Rhyderz is one such band with whom he had collaborated for a composition, Sacrifice.