Thrilled to see success of Indian actors working abroad: Kabir Bedi

The internationally acclaimed Indian actor will be in Kolkata for an ‘Ode to Rumi’, a one-hour presentation of mystic Sufi poet Rumi’s selected poems

Thrilled to see success of Indian actors working abroad: Kabir Bedi

The last time Kabir Bedi was in Kolkata was two months ago for a function. He visited bookshops and signed copies of his autobiography ‘Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life of an Actor’ and enjoyed Bengali food. Come July 8 and the veteran actor-turned-author, who has worked in Bollywood, Hollywood and Europe, will be in Kolkata for a one-hour presentation, titled ‘Ode to Rumi’ at GD Birla Sabhagar from 6:30 pm onwards. Conceptualised and designed by Taru and Jai Talwar, the show is an endeavour to invoke the magic of Rumi and express the merging, the oneness and the union of self and the divine, through music and poetry. Before he visits Kolkata, the internationally famed actor of ‘Sandokan’, ‘Octopussy’ and ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ spoke to ‘Millennium Post’ on Rumi, ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ and more.

Not many know you spent a year in Santiniketan.

Yes, I had spent a year of my life in Santiniketan in the 1950s. When I was young, my parents sent me to Santiniketan because they wanted to water my Indian roots. Then, I again visited Santiniketan when I was shooting nearby. I met the V-C and later had a ‘Zoom’ session with the alumni and spoke about my autobiography.

This time, you will be in Kolkata to read Rumi’s selected poems. How has Rumi influenced your life?

I am attached to spiritualism and mysticism. My father was a Sikh and my mother was a Tibetan Buddhist nun. So, I have always been curious about the nature of the universe and God. There’s a whole chapter in my book on this too. Rumi, Kabir and Guru Nanak - these great mystics have always touched my heart. The mystics believe in direct communication with the universe. Rumi’s poems talk about the mystic relationship with God and the universe. They are expressed in beautiful earthy terms so that people can relate to them.

So, what message would you give to those who are yet to discover Rumi?

It is wonderful to read Rumi. Amid all the activities we have in our life, we should make space for our inner selves. That’s the beauty of all temples across the world. They give you a place where you can go and communicate with yourself. We all do that in temples or home shrines. You can also experience the mystical journey through the writings and teachings of the great mystics. So, I think it is important to make time to discover the inner self. If you don’t have time to read a book, come and listen to me at GD Birla Sabhagar where I will read the poems of Rumi. I am extremely attached to this project. I first performed ‘Ode to Rumi’ at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai. It received a standing ovation. Now, I am travelling to various cities in India and abroad.

Today, several Bollywood actors have gone international. But you were one of the first international actors from India who started in Bollywood but later became a star in Hollywood and Europe.

I am very thrilled to see the success of Indian actors working abroad. Among all of them, I know Priyanka Chopra dearly. She made her Bollywood debut in ‘The Hero: Love Story of a Spy’ where I played a pivotal character. She even launched my book over ‘Zoom’ in London. The big battle in my day was to persuade the industry to write roles for Asians. So, I had to diversify and hence played a lot of Italian, German and Russian characters. The only role I was truly cast correctly was the 1983 James Bond film ‘Octopussy’ where I played a Sikh, which is what I am. On the other hand, one of my longest roles in Hollywood is ‘The Bold and the Beautiful’ where I played the Prince of Morocco. So, whatever small contribution I made, I am glad the road is easier today for Indian actors going abroad. Now, roles are being written for Asian actors, which is great.

You recently met Rekha at an award function. What did the ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ actor talk about?

We actually talked about my book. She said why didn’t I send her a copy of my autobiography and I promised to do so. I have written very well about her in the book. She was my neighbour in Juhu in my early years of being an actor. Rakesh Roshan called me in Honolulu, where I was shooting ‘Magnum P.I.’ with Tom Selleck and offered me ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’. He said there’s a character where a hero turns into a villain and no hero in Bollywood wants to do it. When he told me Rekha was there in the film, I instantly agreed.

Your personal life often makes headlines.

I have had extraordinary relationships with remarkable women. I have written about relationships in my book. It is a matter of great pride for me that I have remained friends with all my ex-wives. Of course, parting is always painful but at the end of the day, if you can remain friends, it’s an achievement. I have found a wonderful relationship with Parveen (Dusanj). She makes me happy. It took me a while, but I got there eventually.

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