Acclaimed actor Kabir Bedi said he was “thrilled” that Bollywood stars are finally making a mark in the west, adding that Hollywood has realised the importance of the Indian market.
Bedi, one of India’s most well-known international actors, praised Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor who starred in Slumdog Millionaire, Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol and the Indian edition of hit US TV show 24; Irrfan Khan (Life of Pi, Spiderman) and Priyanka Chopra (Quantico), who have all had successful American film and TV roles.
Bedi, 69, recently released the DVD version of Sandokan, the series which launched his international acting career. He told Eastern Eye that the west had finally started to recognise the talent of Indian actors.
“It thrills me to see the success of Anil Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan. Also the veterans like Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Anupam Kher.
“It’s partly because of their talent, but also because Hollywood has realised the importance of the Indian market.
“They know, as Bollywood stars, they not only get the whole of the Indian market, but they also get the Indian and south Asian diaspora living abroad. I am thrilled by their success.”
The veteran actor is known for his roles in long-running American soap The Bold and the Beautiful and the Bond film Octopussy, in which he played the villain’s aide, Gobinda, who battled Roger Moore (Bond).
“When I went from Bollywood to set up a career abroad, I hoped that some day everything that I fought for would help actors in the future. We fought for more roles being written for us and fought for the right that non-Asian actors shouldn’t be cast in Asian roles.”
His first stint abroad was Sandokan, a TV mini-series, which he did in 1976. The DVD version, which has been dubbed in Hindi, is now available in India.
It tells the story of an Asian prince turned pirate, played by Bedi, who fights the British Empire for the freedom of his people and the woman he loves. When it was broadcast, Sandokan made Bedi famous across Europe and Latin America, breaking viewership records.
“After nearly 40 years, it’s a long time coming in India, but as they say, better late than never. The fact of the matter is Sandokan is the series that made me so famous in Europe; it became the basis for my journey to Hollywood. It is a career that has spanned over 25 years.
“When I came back to India I was very keen to spend some time getting the film dubbed in Hindi so that today’s generations can see what made me a star internationally.
“It is an Asian story. It’s got that Pirates of the Caribbean feel with a sense of romance and adventure. The same thing here is replicated in Asia, and it’s as relevant to today’s generation as it was then.”
The actor likes to keep himself busy – he is part of Dilwale which was released last week, with Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in the lead roles. He is also starring in Mohenjo Daro with Hrithik Roshan – the film will be out next year.
Bedi said he counts his blessings every day.
“I’m still standing, I don’t know how. When you have a career on many continents that spans many decades, at the end of the day you have to count those blessings you have received along the way.
“Somebody out there must love you for you to survive in this very slippery business.”
Sandokan on DVD is available online from Amazon and Flipkart.