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Music TV’s ‘first lady’ dies

London, Jan. 17: The British Asian acting fraternity was today in shock after the sudden death of the popular actress and former Indian VJ and Bollywood dancer, Sophiya Haque, who was starring in the West End comedy Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

“It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Sophiya Haque passed away last night, on 16th January 2013, at the age of 41,” said a statement from senior agent Oliver Thompson at Cole Kitchenn, Sophiya’s personal management company.

It is understood she developed a clot in her lungs while undergoing tests and passed away in a London hospital.

The statement added: “Her loving partner David White confirmed that Sophiya had been diagnosed with a form of cancer just weeks ago, and died suddenly but peacefully in her sleep last night.”

From India, there were many expressions of sorrow, including one from Kabir Bedi: “Saddened by the passing of Sophiya Haque, friend & talented actress, who(m) I acted with in ‘Far Pavilions’, London West End.”

Sophiya lived in London with her partner, musical director David White, and the couple were in the process of building a houseboat when she fell ill, according to Thompson.

The daughter of an English mother and a Bangladeshi father, Sophiya began her dance training “whilst still in her nappies” before training full time at The Arts Educational School in London.

Her agents provide more details about her career. “Her evenings were spent writing and recording new songs with her band Akasa which led to a record deal with Warner Bros in ‘88. With the success of her music video One Night In My Life, Sophiya was snapped up by the bosses at MTV Asia. Over the next 7 years her presenting career gave her the title of the ‘First Lady’ of music television, with her daily shows reaching 53 countries. After her move to Bombay in ’97, Bollywood came calling and Sophiya lent her dance talents to the likes of Sanjay Dutt, Abhishek Bachchan, Salman Khan, Mani Ratnam, Saroj Khan and Farah Khan to name but a few; her personal favourite was The Rising with Aamir Khan.”

Sophiya returned to the UK in 2002 to begin a two-year run with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams at the Apollo Victoria as Rani, Goddess of Love. “Her next role was as the Jannoo Rani which she created for the West End musical The Far Pavilions (an adaptation of the MM Kaye novel). Since then, Sophiya remained in the UK, working in film, TV and radio, most notably as Puja in the Angelina Jolie flick Wanted, as barmaid Poppy Morales in ITV’s Coronation Street and as a DJ for the BBC Asian Network.”