January 16, 2020: Actor Kabir Bedi enjoys an immensely successful and versatile career spanning 5 decades, three continents and various media platforms. As he turns 74, we got in touch with him for a freewheeling chat.
On Setting Trends in Bollywood
I have never been the singing-dancing hero. It is not because I don’t like it, but because I love watching it more. My career in Bollywood has been very brief. From the stint in Khoon Bhari Maang to last decade where I have done films like Main Hoon Na, Kites and Mohenjodaro. So, most of my career has been abroad.
I do feel I should have and I could have done better roles in Bollywood. But then, it’s on the imagination of the producer and director.
On Italian Series La tigre è ancora viva: Sandokan alla riscossa! (1964)
Sandokan set the stage for my international career. Then The Thief of Baghdad (1978) and Octopussy (1983) happened. It was very difficult at that time. No one was writing roles for people like me but today they are, which makes me very happy since this is what we fought for and this is what we wanted.
On Wanting To Be A Filmmaker And Not An Actor
I could have been a director, I’d prepared myself for it. I spend five years in the biggest companies (Ogilvy and Lintas) making commercials for them. I made over 60 commercials. It’s just that it couldn’t happen but it may happen tomorrow! You never know.
I won’t direct just for the sake of it. If something interests me, excites me, then I will look at it. It depends on the script.
On His Favourite Genre
I am not interested in animation, big action films or big song and dance numbers. But if there are stories which can make people laugh or is heartwarming in some way, I am open to it. When I sit and look ahead, I don’t rule anything out, unless they are beyond my physical capacity.
Bollywood vs Hollywood
Hollywood spends far more time preparing for a movie and they shoot it very fast. While, we follow a mix of directors working both in the American style and the traditional style. The young Indian directors are more on the ball. Technically, we are no less, although the budget may be.
The coming of the OTT platforms has also opened new avenues because it’s a hybrid between TV and films; it feels like TV but it shot like films. This has also empowered a lot for actors, directors, producers by giving people far more opportunities to show their work. We are creating more stars that removes their dependence of the need of big Bollywood stars. We are living in the most exciting time in history. It’s great that I am living in this age.
Joker, Marriage Story, 1917 and Parasite, all of these are marvelous and different in their own ways and it’s hard to say which one will win. It’s a good competition this time, unlike last year, and it’s going to be harder to predict. But my guess is that Joker will score very well in the academy.
The book should be out next year, so we will see. I have been blessed with very interesting life, family history, events and the four marriages. I have lived in the most interesting time in the history so there will be a lot to talk about.
Granddaughter Alaia’s Upcoming Bollywood Debut
She is an unbeatable combination because she has prepared herself. I am not saying this because she is my granddaughter, but you will see that with the first two movies she is doing. Jawaani Jaaneman and one with Anurag Kashyap which are two different roles which she has pulled off brilliantly.
One is positivism. Second is, never admit that you’re more than 50. Third, taking little portions of spices like Turmeric, Dalchini, Cinnamon, Ginger, Garlic, Honey, etc. and a little portion of all that. I believe they really work.
I am having a very quiet birthday. I haven’t told anybody what I am doing on my birthday, and will be going into hiding. And remember, I am always 50 years old so I always celebrate my annual 50th birthday!”