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Living life Kabir size

Kabir Bedi about his acting career, upcoming book and more



Carry on kabir The man who was Sandokan

“Acting was merely a pastime; I wanted to make films,” says Kabir Bedi. “But theatre, ah now that was a labour of love. Can there be anything better than performing without retakes and cuts, in front of people you can see, hearing them breathe in the darkness of the hall?”

So there would be Alyque Padamsee's Othello, Vijay Tendulkar's The Vultures, the West End production of The Far Pavilions, and Girish Karnad's Tughlaq, the resounding success of which brought him to the shores of cinema.

“Acting is the most insecure profession in the world — you're insecure if you're successful, you're insecure if you're not,” he says. “A tightrope walk without a net. It's a miracle I'm still standing!”

Swashbuckling pirate

And it was a rope strung among several countries; a walk he began when he accepted the role of the swashbuckling pirate for the eponymous Sandokan, an Italian-German-French series that turned the spotlight full and bright on him in Europe.

Then there would be the James Bond film Octopussy, The Beast of War, Andata Ritorno by Marco Ponti, a year-long stint on The Bold and the Beautiful and more.

“So it came to be that I spent the best years of my life abroad, believing, mistakenly, that they would write more roles for actors from this part of the globe. They didn't. I made a career there, yes, but there was nothing deeply satisfying about it.”

Buddhist monk

Kabir was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Tibet when he was 10, by choice. “I have the greatest love for the rituals of organised religion — the sense of community and belonging it can confer to people. But me, I'm more a questioner than a follower; not by whim or fashion, but as a decision painfully arrived at after much, much thought.”

There will be a book, he confirms. “There is much to tell; my side of the story,” he says of a personal life that was sometimes accused of garnering more attention than his work.

And there will be films, including one with Govinda, a TV series with Rekha, a performance at the Luminato Festival in Canada.

CHITHIRA VIJAYKUMAR

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