One of the busiest comedians of south, Ali still finds time to observe Ramzan. The only man to have acted in all South Indian languages, and Hindi — adding up to over 1,000 films — not only alters his schedule, but manages to take 10 days’ leave every Ramzan.
“I ask the producers and they are very cooperative,” he says. “Muslims generally don’t go out during this time. We don’t do much shopping either.” A devout believer, Ali doesn’t eat, drink or smoke between dawn and sunset. “I offer prayers five times a day and follow all the rituals.” The actor keeps his iftar parties small — “just family, friends and home food.”
Family includes his wife, three children and brother Qayyum, who also joined the film industry and stays with him. His sisters are married and are settled in Rajahmundry and Vijayawada. Ali’s eldest daughter, who is 14, also observes the rituals. “Once a child reaches the age of 10, we tell them about the importance of these prayers and they observe roza and the other rituals,” says the actor.
Hailing from Rajahmundry, Ali joined films as a child artiste. “I completed nearly 35 years in the industry. I never expected that I would ever earn such name and fame,” he laughs. Which is also why he makes it a point to observe Zakat (charity).
But his charity work is not confined only to Ramzan. The actor has also started a trust in his father’s name, which is based in Rajahmundry. “We selected 40 senior citizens who are neglected by their children. Every month, I give `750 to each of them and the trust also bears their medical expenses.”
So, what about future plans? Like so many actors in south, does he also wish to join politics? In the recent elections, Ali had campaigned for Nandamuri Balakrishna, who won a landslide victory from Hindupur.
“Balakrishna had helped two cancer patients I sent to his cancer hospital in Hyderabad. Today, both are better and are living happily. So I campaigned for him,” he explains. Is a bigger role in order? “There is still time,” he says....