At a time when Indian films are being nominated at the Oscars, the internationally acclaimed Indian actor Kabir Bedi says it was difficult for Indians or Asians to set foot in Hollywood films in the past.
“In the past when I worked in Hollywood, there weren’t any roles written for Indians or Asians. So, for an Indian to be in the Hollywood industry was difficult. I adjusted because of the way I look which helped me play non-Indian roles. I had protested against this in print media then. Gradually, the industry started to bring more roles for Indians,” Mr Bedi said today at the four-day Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters (MBIFL) here.
He also defended his advertisements for cigarettes, saying he did not feel any guilt. “I am not advocating smoking, rather people should be given the right to choose,” said the actor, whose career has spanned three continents covering India, USA, and especially Italy, among other European countries in three media: film, television, and theatre.
In a conversation with journalist Saraswathy Nagarajan on the concluding day of the four-day MBIFL, Mr Bedi delved into some of his interesting childhood memories with former Indian Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi, while speaking at a session, ‘The stories I must tell: The emotional life of an actor,” titled after its popular autobiography.
“We (Mr Kabir and Shri Rajiv Gandhi) were childhood buddies. We used to swim together in the pool and play with an electric train at his residence where Indu Aunty (Smt. Indira Gandhi) played the role of a perfect hostess”, he said.
A handsome hunk in cinema, he is currently playing exciting roles in Telugu, Kannada, and Punjabi flicks.
Mr Bedi is noted for his role as Emperor Shah Jahan in ‘Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story’ and the villainous Sanjay Verma in the 1980s blockbuster ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ that featured actress Rekha. He is best known in Italy and Europe for playing the pirate ‘Sandokan’ in the popular Italian TV mini-series and for his role as the villainous Gobinda in the 1983 James Bond film ‘Octopussy’.
One of India’s biggest literary festivals, the MBIFL 2023’, (known as ‘Ka’ in Malayalam), witnessed various events where literary icons from around the world and stalwarts of arts, media, and films engaged in riveting conversations on contemporary topics.