Ali Merchant is a name that needs no introduction. Merchant ruled the hearts of small screen audiences for almost a decade before bidding goodbye to television.
Now a renowned DJ, Ali is all set to make a comeback. IBTimes India got in touch with Ali to talk about shift from acting to DJing, Bigg Boss and Sara Khan.
What have you been up to?
It has been just work and lots of work. Not in the acting field though. I was working for a corporate which was really far from the place I stay. It used to take me around 4-5 hours one side to reach my office. I was the Vice President of Marketing which also required me to undertake a lot of national and international tours. I did this for two years. That gave me a lot of time to listen to international music and that is how I got attracted to music, understanding different music theories and learning different instruments.
Although the money was pretty high in that job I decided to quit and then I got into DJing. It took me a lot of hard work and dedication. I do not know where it would take me. But I believe that if you keep on focusing then things will keep on happening. I did a Guru Randhawa India tour. That really helped me. I faced a 40 – 50 thousand audience. A big thanks to him as well. After that, I have worked with multiple artists- like Daljit Dosanj, Bpraak etc.
Despite giving such memorable performances, where have you disappeared?
To be honest I wasn't looking towards acting as a career for the past few years. I was quite volatile because I believe in focusing on one particular career at one time. I remember from 2017-2020, I have had almost 50 offers from television. I know how difficult it is to put down those many offers, when, on the other hand, many people really wanted to do those things. I did hear a lot of scripts and I was attracted to getting into acting.
But then I used to calm myself that if I go into acting, then the efforts that I have already put into becoming a successful DJ will go in vain. Then, Covid happened and I got a lot of time to think and evaluate my options. Then I finished around 7- 8 originals of mine with 40-45 mashups. And, that is sufficient content for the next two years. So, I am pretty sorted that ways and now I am willing to get back into acting.
How has the shift from acting to being a DJ been like?
The shift has been very difficult. There are a lot of people who keep asking me why I left acting. Why don't I get back. But I had made up my mind. I believe Djing is also a very successful career if you take it seriously because of the way the hospitality industry has been. DJs themselves are a different breed of stars and celebrities.
Whatever they perform is live. It was not very easy because initially, I took time to understand music, to understand the crowd, to understand different cities of India. Everywhere things are so different. It was surely a huge task but then I understood that once I complete covering up and going to cities a few times, I might just be a master in the skill . That is what exactly happened.
A lot happened when you were in Bigg Boss. Did it play a good part in your life or a bad one?
Well, I was there as a guest in Bigg Boss house. And when you are there as a guest that is for a particular reason. The reason then was Sara. I always have this thing that I should have been there as a contestant and not because of someone else. People who saw those episodes when I was there inside the BB house for 10-15 days, tell me that we really loved the way you perform and all those stuff. But I was there because I was emotionally disturbed at that time. It wasn't like I am there working for the trophy. That is something I always feel bad about. I should have been there after doing so much in life and getting all the success. I want to be there as myself and not because of someone else.
How is your equation with Sara Khan now? Are you two in touch?
We are not really in touch but, if ever bump into each other it would be normal 'hi', 'hello', and casual greetings. Both of us are grownups now.
What do you have to say about Karan Johar's style of hosting?
Karan Johar is good. He is being himself. But, I feel, he is better as a producer and a director. With all due respect, he is really good at that work. But as a host, I love Salman Bhai's style. Noting beats the way he handles the scenes or situation.