Kabir Bedi is on a roll. He will be honoured in Italy on July 8 with the prestigious Pegaso d’Oro 2007 (Golden Pegasus Award) for lifetime achievement. Bedi was selected by a jury that included American author Deborah Young, as well as Italian personalities Giuliano Montaldo, Mario Monicelli, Suso Cecchi D’Amico, Franco Mariotti, Laura Delli Colli and Mario Sesti. Bedi will be joined for this year’s award by American actor Willem Dafoe, as well as Italian actors Dario Argento and Stefania Sandrelli.
The veteran actor spoke to HT City over phone from Italy. Excerpts:
How does it feel?
It feels great to be recognised for an international body of work that spans 30 years and not just Sandokan. I am grateful to Italy for the success I have had. Getting this award from a country like Italy, which is huge in terms of traditional cinema, is a matter of honour.
In India, you haven’t really got the recognition you deserved. There must be some regret…
That is true. At the same time, I should be grateful to Bollywood as the neglect pushed me towards an international career. However, I will do Hindi movies every two years. There is a special joy about working at home.
You were perhaps one of the first actors to make a mark globally. Isn’t it fantastic that now more and more actors are bagging international projects?
It’s really good. Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri are brilliant actors and they truly deserve world stage. However, it’s not easy to get work internationally because it’s really hard to find roles that suit us.
How many roles would you get in Bollywood that would suit Americans?
The problem lies in finding the right roles. However, with globalisation in cinema, we will find more roles for Indian actors working in international films. The more the merrier.
Has Bollywood really come up globally?
Yes, Bollywood has definitely come up as a brand. Even Roman taxi drivers know about Bollywood. However, the product itself has not really filtered through the international market. I think there is a shortage of good Bollywood films. However, that people are curious about Bollywood says it all.
The real breakthrough in Bollywood films is yet to come. Lagaan was close, but the kind of worldwide success that Bollywood films can have is yet to happen.
Which are the international projects that have special meaning for you?
Projects are special in different ways. Sandokan was a breakthrough project in Europe. Then there was something like the American television series The Bold and The Beautiful that also gave me recognition. The Bond film Octopussy was a huge success. Bond films are a huge worldwide brand. So, any role in a Bond film is a major boost. Besides, the villain in Octopussy has made a big difference to villains in Bond films. The mini series in Italy has also worked.
Bollywood has seen me in several films right from Kachche Dhaage, Khoon Bhari Maang and Yaalgar to Taj Mahal (I play Shah Jahan in the film directed by Akbar Khan, which had released in November 2005 and will be re-released).
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on a radio series in Italy that started in December. We have already shot some episodes. The project has a very interesting format — like a chat on the Internet. I love radio and have worked in the medium while I was studying at St Stephen’s College in Delhi. I have done films, television and theatre but many wouldn’t know that I have also worked with All India Radio.
It’s not just that… I also am developing various projects on my own. I plan to do Indo-Italian collaborative projects for which I am looking for scripts to produce.
Any message for your innumerable fans?
What do I say? Thanks for watching me and for keeping faith in me. Europe matters a lot, though we think more about America. Indian actors will spread their wings all across the globe.