There’s a certain “ruhaniyat” or something deeply spiritual about the way music touches us, not always, but sometimes. Is it the music or the musician? A musician without his or her music is incomplete and vice versa.
As I discover in this episode, the Season 5 Finale of Outliers, with Lucky Ali, it’s not only about the music that touches us, but the musician who takes the entire journey beyond orchestra and poetry. Their life experiences and self realisations define the music they create, the songs they write.
“When I am doing music, I am not trying to connect to God, to be very honest with you. Because you only connect to God through an actual dialogue of prayer with God and it has nothing to do with that (music), you need external things to just talk to him. That’s a prayer,” Lucky tells me in this podcast.
Lucky grew up as the son of Mehmood Ali, one of Bollywood’s legendary actors over the four decades and more than 300 films. His mother, Mahelaka, was the sister of another Bollywood great, Meena Kumari.
Lucky played the role of Tissa, the king Ashoka’s younger brother in Shyam Benegal’s historic television series, “Bharat Ek Khoj” based on the book, The Discovery of India, by Jawaharlal Nehru.
“I was told nobody makes money with Shyam babu (Shyam Benegal). But you are getting educated and that kind of education you should pay a lot of money for, for what all of us had. It was a big school, you know there was Kulbushan ji, there was Om ji, so many people, when I think of it now. It was just like a school.”
Over the years, Lucky’s nomadic pursuit of self has shaped his life and work. From being a carpet cleaner, a horse breeder to a ballad singer and actor, Lucky has experienced life and work in diverse forms. In fact, he composed his most famous song “Sunoh” while working on an oil rig off the coast of Pondicherry.
“When I first started out, I wanted to be successful. Successful meant having money, just do the same things, exactly like how dad was. Like dad was excessive in his success because you know, he had like 150 horses….a very different kind of a life and he was self-made. It was not something that his father gave to him,” he says.
Journeys, and how you travel is more important than the milestones of success and failure.
“You are not really going down, you either make a place for yourself underneath the sun or if you have to climb down then the people who are walking up and whom you passed by and they love you and they give you the honour and the respect when you are going down. It’s just a cycle of things. It’s just a circle.”
One of the most treasured memories Lucky has of his father is from the time before he passed away in July 2004.
“He started distributing wealth to people before he died, including his horses, the Jaguar, the Corvette Stingray, and so on. What he started doing at the end of his life…I am glad I saw that.”
There’s so much to learn from Lucky Ali’s nomadic, roller coaster ride of his life. So what’s his legacy, how would he like to be remembered as?
“I don’t want to be remembered and I don’t even care if people remember me. What’s important is, you won’t remember my face 100 years from now, you will remember me in your heart as how I made you feel,” he says.
And the one life lesson from his journey.
“Stay humble, just stay humble because the moment you think you are something, someone else comes who’s better than you. That’s nature. Just stay humble. That’s what my father said. You have no control over anything in life. That’s my life lesson.”
Listen to this conversation with Lucky Ali to learn from a journey we can relate with, all of its ups and the downs, and get inspired by the life lessons and deep realizations it offers.
You can also read the full transcript of this podcast here. Thanks to Sehar Dabur for making it happen. Also, I am grateful to Anand Murali, my long time colleague and the producer of Outliers podcast, who keeps pushing me and who has been a coach in doing these conversations.
Finally, this conversation is the Season 5 finale for Outliers. We will be back soon with another leg of the journey of deep conversations. Until then, stay safe and stay curious.
You can also read the full transcript of this podcast here