If he was utterly groovy in the Sizzling Seventies, he’s cooler still decades later. A peek into the mind of KABIR BEDI, as he discusses movies and momentous occasions with NICHOLA PAIS…
We are at the start of a shiny new year. The mood is upbeat and hopeful. How would you sum up your feelings at this point?
EVERY New Year should be about new beginnings. It should be a line we draw amid the sands of time. To focus on our lives. To think of what must stay, what must go, what’s the best way forward for us. It’s a great time for introspection.
Do you feel this year has the markings of greatness?
Every year has markings of greatness. This coming year will be full of creative surprises and great rewards for many in film, TV and theatre. It will see the coming of age of many new generation actors. And the Big Six will only get better and better.
What would you hope to find most positive about this year, for the Hindi film industry?
If GST cuts Entertainment Tax in half or more, it will be a real landmark year for Indian cinema. Profits will zoom, losses will reduce, and investments in new projects will soar. Right now, producers are being ripped off by too many costs and not enough returns.
Are there any particular highs you are looking forward to?
Awards season is afoot. I’ve been nominated as Best Villain at the Sansui Colors STARDUST Awards for MOHENJO DARO. If I won Best Villain it would naturally be a big high. I’m proud of the role I’ve done.
Professionally, are there any challenges you are still eager to conquer and master?
Many! I’d love to learn singing. Nitin Mukesh has offered to teach me. Soon, hopefully.
Are there any skills you feel you still need to work on and develop?
Performances. Presentations. Productions. Recordings. Writing. These are all ongoing challenges. We keep learning even as we try to do our best. But I really need more social skills.
The year gone by saw you tie the knot with your beloved. What are your lasting impressions of that day?
It was a beautiful religious ceremony amid towering green palms of Alibag, surrounded by friends and family. Everyone looked radiantly beautiful, highly colourful, all had a great time dancing their heads off after dinner. And a great reception in Bombay the next day!
It’s heartening to see your belief in the institution of marriage. Could you share your impression of marriage, its importance, how to nurture it?
I seem to be an incurable optimist, don’t I, marrying four times? But I really should shut up. I’m nobody to lecture anyone on happy marriages. I’ve already failed thrice. Enough said.
Does love undergo a change or metamorphosis once the walk down the aisle is taken?
Change in the nature of loving happens for most couples after marriage. Passion gives way to companionship. Your future happiness depends on whether you interests converge or diverge.
What would you rate as the pros and cons of marriage?
The pros are obvious to all. As for the cons, when a married couple has an argument, one person is always right. The other is the husband. (Just kidding! Lest I be accused of being sexist J)
What do feel are the pitfalls that couples tend to encounter today in marriage?
Often the biggest pitfall is not knowing each other well enough before getting married. Potential problems are best sorted before the celebrations. People often choose to ignore them. And, after marriage, the biggest danger is speaking disrespectfully to each other. Watch thy tone of voice. Or it can fast lead to mutual contempt. Not a good place for both.
Hindi films in general have been undergoing a metamorphosis. Do you consider this an exciting time for the industry as well as viewers?
The New Golden Age of Indian Cinema is about to begin. A brilliant new generation of Indian directors are swarming the ramparts of Bollywood. Viewers are going to be spoilt for choice. And we have some great directors at work today.
Are you keen on exploring more unconventional roles in offbeat films?
Yes, I’m doing such a role in Louis Nero’s THE BROKEN KEY with Rutger Hauer. Playing an anthropologist. Done such films too. But often I’m not convinced by stories I read or hear. Offer me an award-winning cameo any day!
As an artiste, what are the learnings you have gleaned from being in films over the many years?
Hey, that’s a book in itself. I’m still working on one. Our generation of actors benefited greatly from technology. Television, VCRs, Computers, Internet, all kept us and our work alive in the public eye. The technology of cinema itself has revolutionised itself giving today’s directors immense advantages. For individual actors, survival is never assured. But TV has become the real bread and butter of the industry, giving more security to many creative people.
You were one of the hottest faces of the Seventies. Would you rate that era as a more exciting time in general as compared to the current decade?
Each decade has its own unique excitement. The ’70s built on the socially transforming 1960s. The Pill led to the sexual revolution, the Women’s Lib movement, the breaking down of many social taboos. The music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Doors, Leonard Cohen etc were hot off the presses. Clothes were more colourful, outrageous and off-beat. “Hair” became an international anthem. It was “the dawning of the Age of Aquarius”. People were demonstrating for peace for the first time in history.
You seem to have only become better over the years, your looks, your bearing… To what would you attribute this? How important a part do diet, meditation, family time, hobbies and interests etc play in keeping you youthful and vibrant?
Hey, thanks for the compliment! I feel I have evolved over the years to become a better person. Evolution is the purpose of life, it keeps you vibrant. But diet definitely helps. I eat quite healthy, but don’t exercise enough. And I’ve created a ‘nuska’ for health, and I’ll share it. Take a katori and add half a teaspoon each of powdered haldi (turmeric) and dalchini (cinnamon), mix it together with teaspoons of honey and virgin coconut oil, for taste and absorption. Add a sprinkle of ground black pepper. Mix it into a nice paste. Spread like jam on buttered toast and enjoy, you’ll love the taste. I’ve done this for the past three years with excellent results. Google the benefits of all ingredients. You’ll be amazed.
Where do you think the current generation loses out in this fast-paced, tech-driven world?
You win some, you lose some. I think they’ve gained far more with their “fast-paced, tech-driven world”. Think of life before Email, Google, SmartPhones, and all of Social Media. Of course they lose a lot of “me time” to the demands of constant communication. But they’ll work it out. They’re a smart and driven bunch.
Coming back to the occasion at hand, have there been any New Years that still stand out in your memory?
The New Year that launched my ‘Sandokan’ series in Italy and Europe. Its extraordinary success changed my life forever. It gave me an international career on three continents.
If you were to make five resolutions on behalf of all Indians, what would those be?
Fight corruption. Fight injustice. Fight for better education for all. Fight adulteration of food and medicine. Fight for women’s equality.