Her recent success took her to New York where she shared the stage with Anil Kapoor and Aishwarya Rai amongst others, at the Zee Bollywood Awards. Her last album; 'Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai' was produced by Biddu and was the debut album by her former three girl band, Sansara. Her performances recently have taken her all over the world, thus resulting in her most recent award; Best Female Newcomer Of The Year at the Asian Pop Awards held recently in the UK.
Her name is Sophia Choudry, and she is sitting in front of me, just minutes
after collecting her award.
Omar: Well, firstly, congratulations on your award, you must be really
Sophia: It felt so great to win the award, I never thought there would be one so soon. It's nice to be recognised as an individual. I just hope this is the beginning. My mother is also thrilled, she is the one manager who I don't pay, she pays for me. I hope I can reward her with thousands of awards.
Omar: Tell me about your mother? How big an influence has she been?
Sophia: When I was in Sansara, my mother gave up her business to take care of us, she did everything, the cooking, the make-up, arrange the shows, wake us up in the morning, supervise the dancing, she did everything. Whilst we were in Bombay it became a joke that she is one manager who pays for her artists and is not paid by them. My mother had been previously involved with the TV world, but now spends all her time managing me. Speaking personally, I would have never come this far without my mother, she is the driving force behind me, and also my worst critic. She has always told me to achieve my dreams and that in the process she would take care of the nightmares, and that is exactly what she does. She is my role model, her strength and resolve are incredibly strong.
Omar: How did Sansara start?
Sophia: Sansara came about because of my long standing friendship with music director Biddu who worked on films such as Disco Deewane & Made in India. I had done backing on a lot of Indipop albums such as Made In India (Alisha) and Johnny Joker (Shweta Shetty) As soon as I had finished university we decided to form a three girl band.
Omar: Why did you decide on a three girl band?
Sophia: There are so many solo artists about today, but few girl groups in India, and considering we were British Asian, we thought it would be nice to have a blend of East and West. I had met Shinata, one of the girls through family friends and I met Monica about six months later at a singing contest. The decision to have three girls in the band was because all three of us bought an important element to the band.
Omar: How did Sansara then develop?
Sophia: We were all together early '99. In April we did some demo's and by May we had a contract with Universal Music India, by June we had started to record the album. Biddu did all the music, since the other girls didn't speak Hindi, I wrote all the lyrics, in October we went to India to shoot the video and in December, the album was released; Yeh Dil Sun Raha Hai.
Omar: Did you receive any initial feedback regarding the album?
Sophia: At the time the excitement was immense, however we missed out on all the feedback since we were in the UK, whereas the album was released in India.
Omar: What caused the decline of the group after the considerable success
of your debut album?
Sophia: We were meant to shoot a second video in February, however with Shinata and Monica still studying, things had become increasingly difficult, rehearsals were constantly cancelled, we were offered many shows, but we couldn't take them on because of the lack of availability. Once the delays started in regards to the video, it became disheartening for the record company, for Biddu and for me. You only become a success in Pop if you do live shows and promotions, and we weren't doing any, that is also the only way to make money, and thus we weren't making any.
Omar: Amidst all the struggles did you try to preserve further?
Sophia: We did yes, in May earlier this year, Shinata's parents decided she would only be available during college holidays, that was the decisive factor and made things extremely difficult. Considering Sansara was always three, never two the band just could not continue anymore. It was simple, the commitment just wasn't there from the rest of the girls.
Omar: Looking back, how do you now feel about the situation?
Sophia: Naturally I was and still am disappointed. When we got together we had so many aspirations, we really wanted to make a difference to the pop scene, maybe even cross over into mainstream. The secret is focus on commitment, both of which were unfortunately lacking from certain members of the group. I am not annoyed, I am more upset, for over a year we were really close, we danced, sang, fought, laughed and even cried together, it's a shame, but one has to go on.
Omar: What have you been doing since the split?
Sophia: I've been doing a lot of shows all over the UK, and in Los Angeles.
I have also been concentrating on my Zee TV shows, and now I'm working on
my solo material with Biddu, just keep your eyes and ears open.
Omar: Finally, what are your future plans?
Sophia: My future plans are to have no plans, I just have my own personal ambitions which I hope to achieve in the world of singing primarily, in showbiz, opportunities crop up all the time, so you need to be open minded, who knows what my destiny has in store for me. All I can do is work sincerely, with humility. I leave the rest up to the Big Boss!
Do you have any thoughts on this? Feel free to send Omar an e-mail @ Omar Ahmed.