I want to do everything since I'm an entertainer, says Sophie Choudry.
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Donning multiple hats of talents seems to come easy to an all-rounder like Sophie Choudry. Her personality encapsulates the versatile pool of talent within her quite befittingly as she continues to give wings to her creative side. Having been an occasional model, VJ, actor, and a celebrated pop singer - her goal has been one- to entertain her fans, and she's achieved that feat - fair and square.
As her newest single Gori Hai has just been released recently, it has already soared up high, being on everyone's playlist as it is imbued with the nostalgia of peppy '90s music. Sophie Choudry gets candid as she talks about her eternal love for her favourite tunes from the era that are always on loop, recreating an iconic Bappi Lahiri music composition with a modern twist and more. Excerpts...
When did you discover your passion for singing
I'm born and brought up in London, so I was always singing. It was a huge part of my life. My Nani had a dream when I was two days old that she saw my face on album covers, and she went and told my mom that she is going to be a singer. And it's bizarre how that happened. We couldn't imagine that I would move to India, live here, and pursue a career. But I guess my career started when I was about eleven or twelve, and the music director Biddu, who was famous for Disco Deewane and Aap Jaisa Koi was making a song called Made In India and he was looking for girls who could sing in Hindi, in London. And he happened to meet my mom, and my mom told him about me. And that was that. I sang backings on Made In India and we worked on many things. And he always told me that you know, one day he'll launch me, which he did with my girl band. And that's how my relationship with India started. When I moved here, of course, Ek Pardesi Babu Chhail Chhabila all of those songs happened and I guess I decided to stay here and make a life and a career here.
Model, VJ, actor, and singer - how do you juggle with so many talents
It's so funny, I met Karan Johar yesterday to show him the song and he loved it, which meant a lot to me. He said you know, you do everything. When I started I was an MTV VJ and a singer, and I started doing a few movies and everybody used to say to me, you can't do all that, you should just choose one path. But I'm an entertainer, I want to try it all. Then there was Farhan (Akhtar), Ayushmann (Khurrana) and everybody's like - "Oh my god, it's so amazing, You can do everything." So I said today, if today you want to survive, you have to be able to do many things. I guess I didn't pursue my acting as much as I probably wanted to and I also realised I much preferred doing songs, music videos, and performing live. That's my passion, I love hosting, I host for Filmfare so much, I love doing that. It's something I, fortunately, was good at, and it's something where I've honed my skills. I get the opportunities and I take advantage of them.
What is it about the '90s music that makes it your favourite era?
It's funny you say that because so many people tag me, you know, saying, ‘We miss Ek Pardesi.’ Or, '90s songs were the best.’ I'm like yaar, '90s mein, mein bhi school mein thi, woh 2000's mein tha.’ We guess we felt that everybody loved '90s music so much that they forgot what came after. Your '90s music, if you look into it, you have everything right. From your Jumma Chumma to your Tip Tip Barsa Paani, to O O Jaane Jaana. I mean you name it, you have it. From Dhak Dhak, it's such an iconic era when it comes to music. And, when it comes to Gori Hai, I had the rights to Gori Hai Kalaiyan about five or six years ago. I have had it that long. We made a version and it was a nice version. And then I said no, I don't think this is the right time. And then I think I kept it so safe that I even forgot I had it. And then this year suddenly, around early February, I said oh my god, I have this song. We need to do it, let's do it. And we completely reworked it. So of course keeping what Bappi Da had done intact the original melody, but then we made a whole new creation around with Vikram Montrose. And I wanted it to have that nostalgic feeling, like that old flavour but also those new vibes. Because I am very much about being current with music, I love the flavours that are going on right now as well. It's fun, it's trendy, and it's great to dance to. So I was very clear I wanted that, but I also wanted when the song starts, I want people to be like oh okay. I wanted that feeling.
Since this is a recreation of the legendary Bappi da's composition did you ever interact with him about music?
I've been part of the family and I feel so fortunate. His son Bappa is a dear friend. I spend so much time at the house. I performed on stage with Bappi Da, which is an insane moment. He's been there when I've been recording songs with his son. We've chatted so much and like, he passed away after we decided we'd work on the song. Like literally, a couple of weeks after. Which was heartbreaking and a couple of days ago, I sent the song to his son because I wanted Bappa to see it and I was so nervous. Because he didn't even know I was doing it, and he sent me the sweetest messages. He's like- You're family. And dad loved you. And he would've loved this version, and thank you for keeping his legacy alive through this. Aunty was sending her blessings. And it meant a lot to me that they loved it. I wish Bappi Da had heard it because he was so progressive and always so ahead of his time with his sound. He would've loved it. But just coming from his family, telling me that they love what I've done with it. That made me feel really, really good.
Who is your favourite ’90s song and composer?
You know it's so difficult because there was everybody at the time, creating incredible stuff from Nadeem-Shravan to Viju Shah to Bappi Da. I guess I definitely love Saat Samundar. It's a great song. Tip Tip is a great song. Tu Cheez Badi... I mean the list is endless right? How do you pick a favourite song from the ’90s? I love all the Govinda-Lolo stuff also, that's what I grew up on. How do you pick?
It’s nice to see how there’s so much inclusivity in your song video, embracing all body types and letting talent bloom you know, what’s your take on why it is essential?
I'm glad you noticed. I want to say the choreographer of the song is also only 22, and it's his first music video. And I know how hard it is to break into this industry, but he's insanely talented. And my first directive to him was, I want real girls. First of all, they all have to be desi. I want different skin tones, I want to be representative. Body shape I didn't even think about. It wasn't even a thing to me. And when he showed me the girls, they're so good and they're so talented. I think in the last few years because of social media, when it comes to shows, there's a lot of pressure to be inclusive. Which is fair I think, that's how it should be. Everyone's equal, everyone's one, regardless of skin tone, shape, or size. We all just love to perform and that's why we're there. So I'm so glad that the girls got a chance to do it, I'm so glad that they were with me. It was great.
You look so fit as we saw you in the song video - so what's your fitness regime like?
It's a lifestyle to me. I don't believe in dieting. Honestly, people think I live on diet food, I don't. I eat everything. But I work out regularly. And I think at the end of the day, being in this industry and surviving for so long has a lot to do with discipline and consistency and you can see it in Shilpa, Malaika, and many, many more. It's easy to come here for a couple of years, do a couple of hit films, and look great. But it isn’t easy to look good consistently over 20-30 years.
If you have to pick one from all your singles - which one did you have the most fun working on?
Ek Pardesi is iconic and I'll be remembered for Ek Pardesi forever. I think it came at a time when there was no female singer who was looking like that, dancing like that, and had a song like that. Every day I get messages for Ek Pardesi, so I think Ek Pardesi is what everyone will know me for forever. But hopefully, the new generation will think of me as Gori Hai.