“Nothing defeats the purpose of my book,” says Kabir Bedi. The actor who is known for his work across Bollywood, Hollywood and Europe, has come up with his memoir titled Stories I Must Tell, which is getting visibly more mileage for his failed relationships than his career that he almost always kept on top priority.
In a candid chat, he remains as “unputdownable” as his writing, and says, “The purpose of my book is to tell my story. Of course elements of the media will pick out the bits about Parveen (Babi; late actor) and Protima (Gupta; his first wife) because those were things that people know too well and immediately identify. But my book is so much more than that. I mean Protima is one chapter and Parveen is one chapter, but there are many chapters and many stories! Think how I managed to interview The Beatles (rock band) in Delhi and how I made India proud in so many ways (in the West), and my struggles in Hollywood and the battle I fought there.”
The 75-year-old feels jubilant at the achievements of Indian actors in Hollywood now. Crediting it to his endeavours in the past, he says, “Nothing gives me greater joy than the success of Indian actors in America, today, which was unthinkable at that level when I was there. Priyanka Chopra, Kal Penn, and there are many more Indians in the limelight today. For me it’s a feeling of great satisfaction because I was the first Indian actor who worked in Bollywood and made a career in Hollywood; so struggles of those days have paid off in the successes of others today… They (West) are under no obligation to write roles for Indian actors. But what gives me great satisfaction is that diversity is now a concern, and I’m glad that I took the first few steps!”
Not known as one who shies away from stating himself as a “romantic” soul who kept looking for his soulmate, until he finally met Praveen Dusanj (his wife now), Bedi has revealed in his book not just some of his previous love encounters, but has also stated as quite matter-of-fact about what went wrong. Ask if her feels he didn’t realise the repercussions of experimenting in an open marriage with Protima, when young, and he opines, “It was an experiment that didn’t work for me. But I’m nobody to judge whether that is right or wrong for anybody else in their context. What I do feel is that when we are young, we want to push the boundaries of social practices. And we were the rebels of our age! We wanted to push the envelope. So what we did, we did thinking it would be best for us, but then it turned out not to be so. And my relationship with Protima opened new doors for me, in terms of the other relationships.”
Author tweets @HennaRakheja