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01-18-2013, 02:36 PM #1
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- Sep 2011
'Sophiya Haque led a life as colourful as her repertoire'
Sophiya Haque, who captured the imagination of a young India waking up to the global village, led a life as colourful as her repertoire
For those who grew up in the '90s, Sophiya Haque was the brightest star of that trailblazing brigade of young, western and trendy Video Jockeys that let young India in on the sunnier side of a changing entertainment scene. The vivacious Haque, who wore multiple hats with great elan - actor, singer, VJ, dancer and later even a DJ on BBC Asian Network - passed away in her sleep in London on Wednesday night. Haque, who lived with her partner, musical conductor David White, was diagnosed with cancer recently. She was 41.
Born to a British mother and a Bangladeshi father in Portsmouth on June 14, 1971, Haque dabbled in dance as a child, and studied at the Arts Educational School in London. Although she first tasted success as a silken-voiced singer when Warner Bros signed a deal with her band Akasa (which means outer space in Sanskrit) in the late '80s, she earned fame and fan following when she turned to VJ-ing for almost a decade - first for MTV Asia, and later for Channel V, most famously for her show Sophiya's Choice.
As an under-revamp Channel V got rid of all its VJs at the end of the '90s, Haque kept herself busy with dance and films. She starred in Sunhil Sippy's mad indie comedy Snip! (2000) and also displayed her dancing chops in the racy September Madham from Mani Ratnam's 2000 film Alaipayuthey (remade as Saathiya in Hindi). But bit roles or dancing with Salman Khan in Aisa Pehli Baar Hua Hai (Har Dil Jo Pyaar Karega) couldn't keep her spiritedness interested for long.
In 2002, Haque returned to UK and turned majorly to theatre, starring in ambitious West End productions like Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical Bombay Dreams, Wah! Wah! Girls and The Far Pavilions. Meanwhile, she also starred with Angelina Jolie and James McAvoy in the 2008 action film Wanted.
Luke Kenny, one of Haque's earliest collaborators on Channel V, said, "This is such a shock for all of us who have worked with her. We were one large family. What I've heard is that she had been admitted with pneumonia. But when they ran some tests they found she was in the last stage of cancer. We're still waiting to get the complete picture." Reports say that Haque was diagnosed with cancer just weeks ago and was undergoing tests when she developed a clot on her lungs and died.
Stuart Piper, managing director of Cole Kitchenn, called Sophiya "one of the most inspirational people". "She was the kind of person you always want to spend time with: full of light, warmth, compassion, care and with an infectiously wicked sense of humour and I loved every minute of working with her," he told the press.
Malaika Arora-Khan, her contemporary, said, "I was a VJ with MTV and she was with channel V. We were friends and would meet at numerous parties and events. I liked how bubbly, cheerful and so full of life she was. She exuded class and sensuality."
Michael Ward, producer of The Far Pavilions, said, "Sophiya was this rare, fantastic combination of complete professionalism and a sense of mischief. I have known very few people who were as vibrant as her. On stage, she was like a mother figure, the centre of gravity for the entire cast. On September 17, 2005, the last show of this production, I remember her sitting and weeping. This had meant so much to her and had brought her such immense appreciation from British producers. She had played a courtesan with such humanity. She didn't know how to hold back. She gave everything her all."