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Sophie Choudry: ‘Today I’m more confident about how I look and not bothered about every camera angle’

Singer-actress Sophie’s latest music video Lips has its hook line from the Jewel Thief song Hothon Pe Aisi Baat

Sameer Salunkhe Calcutta Published 21.03.24, 04:46 PM
Sophie Choudry in Lips

Sophie Choudry in Lips

Sophie Choudry, known for songs such as Ek Pardesi, Aap Jaisa Koi, and Hungama Ho Gaya, has released her latest music video Lips, whose hook line is the iconic song Hothon Pe Aisi Baat. In a freewheeling chat, Sophie talks to us about Lips and looks back at her two-decade-long journey in the entertainment industry.

How did your latest music video Lips happen?


Sophie Choudry: After my last song, Gori Hai, which was a take on Gori Hai Kalaaiyaan, did well, Saregama approached me to work with them. They suggested a couple of songs, Hoton Pe Aisi Baat being one of those. I won't even call Lips a remix. Apart from the hook line, the lyrics are original. It’s more of an adaptation. When I adapt a song, I’m particular about keeping the integrity of the original intact. But there must be something new in it too. So, when I heard what Raahi (music composer) and Ardaas (lyricist) were coming up with, I liked it. And that’s how we started working on Lips.

The music video is produced by me. It is pretty much my vision. I wanted to have that nostalgic vibe. I think a lot of us miss those videos that have the style, the glamour, the dancing and the story. Otherwise, everybody kind of does the same stuff now. I think people still identify with my videos and I felt like this song needed to have that nostalgic feel.

Is Lips about the desire of a woman and her having to keep it a secret?

Sophie Choudry: I think it’s also a bit of a take on who I am. If you look at the video, the woman has very strong, independent boss lady vibes. But she is a complete diehard romantic at heart and not necessarily somebody who finds it easy to say how she’s feeling. You can take that in many ways. Perhaps for some, it’s conditioning.

In the video, she’s the owner of an ad agency and this supermodel (played by Freddy Daruwala) has come and it’s almost inappropriate for her to say something. So, it’s possibly that. It could be just the fact that it is much harder to express how you feel for so many reasons. So, I think that represents a lot of who I am, which is very strong in the workplace and very soft at heart when it comes to my personal life.

What is your take on female desire depicted in films, shows and music videos?

Sophie Choudry: I think compared to what it was maybe 10-15 years ago, women are much freer to express how they feel nowadays. I think that a lot of women take the initiative, be it professionally or personally. And even when you talk about desire, I think it’s a subject that people speak about a lot more openly, which is why we’ve had movies like Lust Stories and Thank You For Coming where women speak a little more openly about desire.

Is it on a very large scale across the country? Perhaps not. That will take time. Is it a conversation that families are comfortable having among themselves? I don’t think so. That is a difference that you perhaps find between Western countries and India. There’s still sharm or haya that exists here. I was born and brought up abroad. I’ve spent pretty much half my life abroad. I’ve been brought up by a very strong, independent, diva kind of mother. But I think even we don’t get into the nitty-gritties of things.

Most of your songs have had a hook line from an old popular Hindi song. Was it intentional or accidental?

Sophie Choudry: The first that happened was Mera Babu Chhail Chhabila, which was a remix of a famous song that went off very well. I think Ek Pardesi Mera Dil Le Gaya was a huge turning point for me in my life and my career. Ek Pardesi was a song from the black-and-white era of the 1950s, but trust me, many people believe that mine was a completely original song. It surprises me as well.

I got so much love and popularity for Ek Pardesi followed by Jadugar Saiya. I guess people liked how I presented old songs in a new light and some thought they were original songs. And somehow that kind of became a part of who I am.

It was not a conscious thing. I wanted to do a completely original song without even using a hook line. But if you look at it, be it in films or otherwise, people are constantly recreating old songs. You even have artists like Raghav who after so many years had a hit song with Desperado. But the hook line that caught on was Sajaaunga loot kar bhi… So, it is a way of just presenting old songs in a new light for a new generation.

Apart from Pyaar Ke Side Effects (2006), you didn’t get many acting jobs. Mostly, you did item numbers in films. Were those the only kind of offers coming your way?

Sophie Choudry: Back then, you would be put in a box immediately. A lot of film people were like, she’s already popular as a VJ and as a pop singer, so what are we supposed to do with her? Pyaar Ke Side Effects, ironically, was a role that I kept saying no to. And only when I heard the full script did I realise what a fantastic film it was. I just loved how Saket Chaudhary had written and visualised it. It was such a pleasure to work with Rahul Bose. That movie gave me a chance to do something.

But by and large, a lot of the other offers that came were just the glam doll, not much to do or say. I did a few of those but after a point, it didn’t make sense to me. It’s not that I had some delusional idea of becoming a typical heroine, because I perhaps was never that, but I felt that there was a space for me where I could have done so much more.

Today, with the advent of OTT, perhaps there are more opportunities. But yet again, it is always a battle to break your stereotype and make the makers see you in a different way, which is ironic because that’s their job. I realised very quickly that I was lucky enough to have made a niche for myself. I was the only girl who was singing, acting, dancing and hosting. I made a niche for myself, which is perhaps why I’ve managed to remain relevant even today.

Having grown up in England, what was the first lesson you learnt while trying to find your place in the entertainment industry?

Sophie Choudry: I was educated at the London School of Economics and I came from a business family, so my world was entirely different. Thirdly, my mentor was the incredible Biddu, who himself was not part of Bollywood despite doing hits like Aap Jaisa Koi. When I arrived here, I gave myself one year. The lesson I learnt very quickly was that I was perhaps too honest for my own good. But the most important thing to me was to be at peace with myself, to be able to look at myself in the mirror and to say, I did it my way, and sleep peacefully at night.

Actresses often get scrutinised for their looks and age. Have you ever been at the receiving end of it?

Sophie Choudry: I’ve been really lucky because people think I’m aging in reverse. Also, I’ve been smart to not put myself out there for the kind of roles where ageism would affect me. I’m so busy trying to put together my music, travelling for live shows, and hosting the biggest award shows. You’ll see me in a movie next month after a long time. I’m kind of playing myself in it, but there was no question of ageism or anything like that in it, so it was refreshing.

What is your take on beauty and how has it evolved over the years?

Sophie Choudry: I think beauty has so much to do with how you feel about yourself internally. When you are younger, even though you look great, you’re insecure about so many things. When I moved from England to Mumbai, even though I was always a size 8-10 my entire life, which is very small, I was always made to feel like a voluptuous one. Inevitably, that would make me feel large, especially being on MTV, where most of the people were pretty skinny. Not that anyone was doing it intentionally, but I was always made to feel like that.

Today I’m more confident about how I look. I’m not bothered about every camera angle. I think that confidence comes with time and age where you realise that there are other things that are far more important. I’m not so hard on myself anymore.

More than two decades in the entertainment industry, what has changed in you and what has remained the same?

Sophie Choudry: I’m still hardworking and grounded. The only thing I’ve ever known is to just put my head down and work hard. That is what I’m best at, and that is what I continue to do. I have never taken anything for granted. I think I’m very much the same person.

Perhaps over time, I’ve become more selective about who I want to spend time with and who I let into my space. I’m still a straight shooter but I try to be a bit diplomatic now. I’m still the same family girl that I was right at the start.

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