23 rd July 2021 – Prabha Khaitan Foundation organized a virtual session of The Write Circle with Kabir Bedi. Introducing and welcoming the guests was Ruhi Syal. Kabir has starred in Ashanti alongside Michael Caine and Roddy McDowall in Thief of Baghdad and a number of leading Italian films. He has also starred in many American shows such as highlander, dynasty, murder she wrote etc. and many multiple HBO series. He has also worked in theatre. He has worked in over 70 Bollywood films in India. In conversation with him was Ehsaas woman of Amritsar, Praneet Bubber. Praneet is an architect and the founder of Phulkari Women of Amritsar.
Kabir has wanted to write his book for a long time as he feels that he has led an amazing life with a lot of ups and downs and wanted to share his journey with everyone. Finally, he thought that it was now or never and he started working on his book. He had thought of writing the book for 20 years and had been trying to write it for 10 years. Many of his drafts ended up in the bin and eventually with the lockdown, he had time to focus and clear his thoughts and writes his book. He has lived in 3 continents and worked in 3 film industries, Bollywood, Hollywood and in Europe. He felt that beyond his experiences and the people he has met, each of them could have been a book in itself. He felt that by not writing a book, it would be a great waste of an opportunity. He wanted his family, friends and India to know about the extraordinary life of Kabir Bedi.
He says that the book tells the story of his making, breaking and re making. He has seen euphoric times in Europe as the first and only Indian actor to have gained as much popularity as him. It was an amazing experience to have seen that stardom. With all the good stories he has, he has also experienced a lot of hardships such as losing his son, facing financial crisis because of bad investments and how he rose from the ruins of that and finally getting back on his feet in terms of his life, career etc. and then finally being knighted by the Italian Republic. His book is a story of his life with all the roller coaster rides. It is an emotional story, told from the heart; it’s a human story with the joys, sorrows, triumphs and victories of being human.
Unlike most people, who leave out the personal details of their lives like their innermost insights of a relationship or the problems when one gains success and when a person feels like they have lost everything in terms of great personal losses, Kabir has shared everything in his book. He didn’t want to only tell the people of his good times but wanted to share a story that was meaningful and he felt that the only way for that to happen was by being honest and not leaving out anything. He wanted people to know his mistakes and how he overcame them and wanted people to connect with his story on an emotional level. When he gave himself the freedom to be true to himself, he was able to tell the story honestly.
He says that his parents lived very idealistic lives, because of which there wasn’t a lot of money at his home. He worked different jobs to pay for his own education and one of those jobs was working at All India Radio. While working at All India Radio, he had the opportunity of interviewing the Beetles, who he was a big fan of. He went through a lot of trouble to get the interview with them and he was extremely excited and happy to get it. The interview was a turning point of his life because of the way that All India Radio treated it, they erased the interview and wrote over the tape of the interview. That incident, along with a few other things, he decided that he couldn’t work for those people anymore and made a decision of moving to Bombay, which he did, with only Rs. 700 in his pocket, with a belief that he could and would make a mark in the city known as Bombay.
He feels that when a person makes a decision, there is a power in boldness. When you have faith, perseverance and the courage to take the first step, the universe conspires to make your reality come true. He recalls an incident when he was leaving for Bombay, he told a friend of hers that he was going there, who asked him to meet a friend of hers in Bombay. He didn’t think that it would be a big deal but he ended up going to the person who introduced him to the world of advertising and theatre in Bombay. He believes that it was the most fortuitous thing to have happened to him. This led him into the world of cinema when his boss, casted him in Tughlaq, which was a big hit and gained him a lot of popularity.
He gained huge success in Italy and was identified as his character Sandokan, which was a problem for him as directors refused to cast him for different genres movies. It was then that he decided that he has to leave the country of his biggest success and move to someplace else. This was when he moved to Hollywood and he says that he got lucky with great movies in Hollywood as well. Hollywood was tough for him because there weren’t roles for Indians in movies in Hollywood but fortunately for him, the way he looked, helped him get other roles like a foreigner. It was in the Bond film where he was casted as an Indian for the first time.
He talks about his parents and says that they were very unusual. They led exceptionally idealistic lives as freedom fighters. Both of his parents were graduates of Oxford and rather that getting a job that could pay well, they chose to give it all up for their country. His parents then moved on from being freedom fighters to find other purposes and meaning in their lives after the independence. His father wrote books on Guru Nanak and became a philosopher in Italy for the next 30 years. For Kabir, living with his parents and their stories, deeply inspired him to never quit and gave him the courage to do what he wanted to do.
He talks about his relationships and says that all his relationships have had a huge impact on them. All those relationships were deeply felt relationships and made him finally find what he wanted with his now wife, after 3 marriages.