Umarah Naushad Ali: I realised my grandfather’s greatness after he passed away

Umarah, who is a pastry chef as well as an animator, VFX and 3d interiors artist, vividly remembers each moment she has spent with her grandfather, late composer Naushad Ali. She says that her grandfather helped her form her perception of the world, encouraged her craft. He loved spending time with all his grandchildren.

“When my grandfather used to compose or when he used to play his piano, nobody was really allowed to go in his music room. I used to sneak in, when I was just four or five years old. He used to be so lost in his music. His eyes would be shut and he would be just flowing with the music. And I would be in the background, dancing. I would just be there hanging around. And he would never get to know. And very rarely he would realise that there’s somebody dancing in his room,” she says.

She adds, “At night all of us used to sleep in his room, all six of us granddaughters. And every night was a movie night. We have grown up seeing all Bollywood and Hollywood classics .I have stayed a lot with him for many years. I’ve grown up seeing good cinema, let’s say that. So that has definitely had an impact in my life in many things. Not just the taste in music or movies, but in a lot of ways, it has had an impact on me. Other than that, he used to talk about a lot of things with us. He used to discuss movies with us, but not just that. He used to sometimes talk about how people are and how you should always be humble and polite. Sometimes, he used to talk about politics as we were growing up. And then there were times when he would talk about his hunting and fishing days. And I’ve also gone fishing with him. We used to go to Powai Lake. We are members there till date.”

Talking about all that they would do together, she says, “He used to love spending time with all his granddaughters, all of us, obviously, including me. I used to paint a lot, he used to love that. So there was a bonus to that. Whenever I would paint, I would go and show it to him and to encourage, he would always give me money. So that was an encouragement. So next time I would feel like doing it even more. That was his way of encouraging us and being artistic.”

She says that people have given her respect and love, thanks to her grandfather. “For the world, he was a great music director. Of course he is, no doubt. But for me, he was my grandfather first, and I realised his greatness, as in, it hit me after he passed away, rather, because that’s when I actually grew up and I saw the world and I saw how much people loved and appreciated him. I am nothing and nobody, and people come and touch my feet at times just because I’m his granddaughter. So, I mean, I feel the luckiest granddaughter in the world, honestly,” she says.

Meanwhile, she says that her father Rehman Naushad Ali also had an impact in helping her develop her outlook and her craft. “Whether it is story writers, dialogue writers, songwriters, scripts, he’s seen the best of everything, the best of movie-making, the best of production. He’s worked with, as an assistant director with K Asif in the movie Love and God, and that’s where he started his career. Then he directed a movie called Ghazal, My Friend ,Teri Payal Mere Geet . He’s done many other small projects in direction. He’s done scripts also. Papa and I, we always discuss movies and scripts. That has given me a good sense of direction, also the quality of movies. It just gives me a better sense of art, for sure. Even now, he will discuss scripts with me. I will always give him feedback. We will sometimes have disagreements because of the generation gap, but he does take feedback. He does consider it. It just is a nice, very nice equation I have with him when it comes to all this. He’ll never treat me like, oh, she’s a kid, and her opinion doesn’t matter, or I can’t share this with her. That’s how I understand a lot about movies, because, of course, my dad and my grandfather both,” she says.

She adds, “Currently, we have a land for Naushad Academy, and he’s been working on that to make the academy. So, he’s the chairman, trustee of that. I’m also a trustee in the academy. We discuss everything about the academy as well. We will be coming up with our academy very soon. Also, we have started UNA Events (Umaraah Naushad Ali Events).”

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