You heard his impassioned plea in the Save The Tiger campaign. Today, even the Prime Minister of India, Dr Manmohan Singh, is raising his voice against poaching and indiscriminate killing of the wild cats. “It would be an unforgivable tragedy if we were to let our fast-diminishing population of tigers die out,” insists Kabir Bedi.
Get ready to hear Bedi’s distinctive baritone again in one of this summer’s biggest box office attractions, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. Sir Ben Kingsley plays the Nizam in this Disney movie and Bedi has dubbed for him in the Hindi version of the film.
The actor has given voiceover for commercials, corporate films and documentaries in the past, but this is the first time he is doing it for a Hollywood film. “That made it an interesting prospect. I was dubbing for Ben who is such a phenomenal actor and that made it a big challenge.” Bedi and Kinglsley are good friends though they haven’t spoken in a while. “I’ve been to his home in Oxford and attended his wedding. Still, it was difficult dubbing for Ben in a language different from the one he spoke because I had to carry the incredible inflections used in English into Hindi while retaining the essence of the character,” Bedi explains.
Kingsley is planning a Taj Mahal with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and himself in the lead roles. Has Bedi been approached to play a part too? “No I haven’t. I played Shah Jehan in Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, so may be Ben wouldn’t want me in his Mughal dream,” he reasons. “I know he wants to make the movie, but he’s still looking for finance.” Bedi, meanwhile, is busy with three Hindi movies. The first one that is lining up for a May 21 release is Hrithik Roshan’s Kites that he describes as a “bloody good film”.
Next is Sanjay Sharma’s Dunno Y… Naa Jaane Kyon that “brought me back with my first co-stars Zeenat Aman and Helen with whom I started my career in Hulchul back in 1971”. Finally, there’s Tigamnshu Dhulia’s still untitled film with Govinda. Prod him for details and he says he’ll talk about them another time.
“Right now let’s focus on Prince Of Persia that is a beautiful mythical story with plenty of thrills, reminiscent of yesteryear epics like The Thief Of Baghdad,” he says. “Disney movies that have been a part of our growing up years have a wonderful ability to tell stories drawn from myths, fables and magic and have an universal appeal.”
Which is his all-time favourite Disney movie? “That’s a difficult one,” he ponders. I liked Peter Pan… And 101 Dalmations. There is are dogs barking in the background. Are his pets the reason he picked the Dalmation movie? He laughs, “No, the pets are recent. I picked 101 Dalmations because of its colourful characters. Who can forget Cruella de Vil!” Bedi asserts that the Nizam in Prince Of Persia is an equally powerful character. “I’m not getting into black, white and grey shades. For me, the Nizam is a highly intelligent, motivated and complex personality. And the fact that he is played by an Oscar winner makes him all the more impressive.”