'If it was only films, I'd have found it tough to survive'
From writing and singing in French to wardrobe malfunctions, Sophie Choudry has been there and done it all.
The veejay/singer/actress has had a multi-faceted career so far. And she's back in the news for her new single called Hungama Ho Gaya. It is a remix version of the 1975 song, which was originally sung by Asha Bhosle.
Sophie spoke to Sonil Dedhia about her new song, and how she makes her big bucks, and even gave a live performance in the Rediff office.
Tell us about your new single Hungama Ho Gaya.
I hadn't planned it. It was (composer) Vishal Dadlani, who gave me the idea for this song and suggested I do a remix.
John Stewart produced and arranged the whole thing. I wrote the lyrics of the song and got Shiraz Bhattacharya (one of the members of the rock group Pentagram) to do the video.
It's been quite a task to get everything in place but when I see the end result, I am really satisfied with it.
Image: Sophie Choudry
'I don't think people buy full albums any more'
You took a long break from singing. Will you do more singles?
I haven't planned anything further. I am taking one song at a time. I am sure I will come out with another song very soon. I thought of coming out with a single because I don't think people buy full albums any more.
Even when it comes to songs in our films, people buy and listen to the songs they like, so sometimes doing a full album is a waste.
I would like to do more songs but the problem is that music channels no longer play non-filmi videos. It's just the songs from the films that are promoted on all music channels.
Thankfully, the digital media is huge. Platforms like YouTube and other social media websites are giving artistes a chance to keep coming up with new stuff.
You also sang a song in French for Preity Zinta's upcoming film Ishkq in Paris.
Can you name any other girl in India who can sing and write in French? (laughs)
Jokes apart, Preity is a dear friend and she knew that I could speak French but didn't know how fluent I was.
At a party she threw for (French actress) Isabelle Adjani, she saw me speaking to everyone in French. The next day she called me and told me about the song. I suggested doing the lyrics in French and she and music composers Sajid-Wajid loved the idea.
Image: Sophie Choudry
'I got bored with the kind of roles being offered to me'
You have been a VJ, singer, lyricist and actress. What do you enjoy doing the most?
I don't think I can choose. I am blessed with so many different talents and I always wanted to be an all-round, complete entertainer.
The concept of VJs is almost dead. Reality shows are ruling the roost on television and that is why I also quit.
People like Cyrus Brocha, Malaika Arora and I were all iconic VJs. Today, you flick channels and every other VJ looks the same.
You haven't done many films; it's been more than two years since you acted in a film.
I haven't done films for the last couple of years because I got bored with the kind of roles being offered to me.
I didn't want to take up anything just for the sake of acting.
I have started shooting for something, which I can't reveal, but it will release next year.
You are essentially a singer but multi-talented enough to be an actress. Is it essential to multi-task in order to survive?
I have been doing it since the time I stepped into the industry. I didn't do it because it was a necessity; I was blessed to be able to do it.
I have to admit that if my career were dependent only on films I would have moved back to my home in London a long time ago. I think because I love singing and I am fortunate enough to travel all over the world and perform live shows. Performing at live events is my bread and butter.
If I didn't have any support from my family and it was only about films, I would have found it very tough to survive.
Image: Cover of Sophie Choudry's Hungama Ho Gaya
'I don't mind being called a fashionista'
How difficult is it to get a steady flow of work?
I think I have managed to sustain myself because people know that I am a great performer. I do a lot of live shows in India. I perform in Delhi almost every week. I perform so many times in Goa, Bangalore and other cities.
The era of live public shows has pretty much died down. I get nostalgic when I remember my days of touring with Shaan, Euphoria, Sukhbir...we would do these fabulous live shows for a crowd of 50,000 people.
Most of my performances now are at corporate events or private shows so not many people are aware about it.
Not only me, people like Mika, Vishal-Shekhar and a lot of other singers and music composers also do a lot of corporate events.
We make great money out of it and it's an incredibly respectable living and we all have fun.
You have also been known as a fashionista. Do you feel the pressure to constantly make a fashion statement?
I was born and brought up in London and I studied in Paris so fashion is an essential part of my daily life.
Mumbai is known for its bohemian culture. People walk around wearing anything and everything.
Working women in London wear high heels in the morning and go to office. Their make up and hair is done perfectly. This is the kind of culture that I have seen in my growing up days.
When I moved to Mumbai almost nine years ago, I would be dressed up even if I was in my house! It's only in the last three to four years that Bollywood actresses have become fashion conscious.
I grew up around Gucci since I was eight years old. I would get it as my Christmas gift. Suddenly these brands are available in India and in a way, it's good.
Looking good has always been a part of my life. I don't mind being called a fashionista.
Image: Sophie Choudry
'I would love to dress up for a 9 to 5 office job'
If you were working in a 9 to 5 office job, how would you dress?
I have never done a nine to five office job but it would be interesting to dress up (laughs). I would wear a fabulous tailored suit may be with a knee length skirt and high heels. I would like to be elegant and chic.
One fashion faux pas that you've not forgiven yourself for?
The amazing thing is that I have always been able to forget the fashion faux pas that have happened to me (laughs).
Sometimes things look much better in real life than they do in camera flashes. Sometimes the camera catches things that you don't want it to catch. I think I have been very lucky as I haven't faced a real disaster.
How would you deal with a 'wardrobe malfunction'?
It's happened to me on stage. I think you just need to have your wits about you and a back-up plan in place.
I remember I was performing on stage with Saif Ali Khan to a song from Salaam Namaste, for which I had to look pregnant, with a fake belly.
I had to run backstage after I finished the performance and had just three minutes to change for my next song. I thought I could manage because I had three people helping me.
A small string that supported my top suddenly gave away, and only I know how we pinned it and I managed to give the performance! It was scary but I managed to do it.
Image: Sophie Choudry
Photographs: Uday Kuckian