Kabir Bedi: The man beneath the charisma

The actor tells CE about the back story of his new book, the loves of his life and spirituality

Published: 19th May 2021 05:22 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2021 05:22 AM   |  A+A-

Kabir Bedi

Express News Service

BENGALURU: A baritone that can make anyone go weak in the knees and a flamboyant life that can make anyone envious... actor Kabir Bedi as all that, but also much more. At a virtual session organised by Prabha Khaitan Foundation, the actor spoke about, and answered questions (including from CE), on his recently launched autobiography, Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life Of An Actor (Westland, Rs 699), his ex-wife Protima Gupta and their open marriage, the suicide of his son and more. Edited excerpts:

You have been pretty open about your life. What was the need to write this book and how did you decide to start on it?

I had a compelling need to tell my story for 10 years. I had many big stories inside me and many smaller stories too, and I would rack my brains on how I was going to tell them. Then the pandemic began and changed our lives. So I created a routine for myself. In the morning I would listen to the chirping of birds and think about what form of storytelling I would like. And it came to me like an epiphany. I realised that what I like the most is the shorter, story format. Once I was sure of that, the book kind of burst out of me like an unborn child and the first draft was ready in seven months.

Protima Bedi and your relationship have always grabbed eyeballs. What made you a couple that stood out?

Today’s readers need to understand what it was like to be in ’60s and ’70s. Hippies were chanting mantras, pills gave people sexual freedom and music was taken over from Frank Sinatra by The Beatles and Rolling Stones etc.

The world was changing and we wanted to be part of that new world by pushing the envelope on what was socially acceptable in India. When Protima and I started living together, it was a scandal. Later, we largely got married because Protima got pregnant. She was ok not being married, but I couldn’t bear the thought of raising a child in the ’60s without a father and I did love her too. There were infidelities on both my side and hers, it was an open relationship. But it didn’t work for us. I felt the need for fidelity and Parveen Babi came into my life.

You’ve made headlines over the women in your life. Was it your ability to fall in love or the choice of woman?

... what I do know is the choices that I made, right or wrong, brought me to whatever I achieved. They were part of my journey and I have to thank them for that. It’s not just the idea of being in love all the time but I also believe in the idea of marriage with a person with whom I can share my excitement and journey. No one gets married with idea of getting divorced.

In the book you mention your son Siddharth and the mental health issues he was going through. How did you come to terms with that?

For people with mental health problems, something fundamentally changes inside them. The person that you see is not the person that you know and caregivers always have to adjust enormously. I have chronicled my battle to pull back my son from the brink. These days the treatments are much better, but those days, obviously, it didn’t work that effectively. Dealing with that kind of loss is soul wrenching.

How has spirituality impacted your life?

Spirituality has been a running theme in my life. I got the Sikh tradition through my father and the Buddhist tradition from my mother. I myself became a Buddhist monk in Myanmar for a small period and also learnt meditation and Vipasana. Organised religions are very important in people’s life and I have enormous respect for that.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp