Looking back at his younger self, actor Kabir Bedi says he now sees himself with more compassion, more understanding. That the process of writing the book, “Stories I must Tell: The Emotional Life of an Actor” (Westland Books), allowed him to forgive himself of many mistakes.
“There was also the perspective of time. Of course, it was painful to revisit certain parts of my past which were always submerged somewhere in my mind, spaces I had been avoiding for a long time. Through the written word, I decided to revisit and encounter them again. It was cathartic, revelatory, and also a reevaluation,” the actor tells IANS.
Laying bare his personal life — from his multiple marriages to affairs that changed the course of his life, the compelling memoir, which explores his success in the Indian, American and Italian film industry, is also an emotional read, especially when he lays bare his vulnerabilities. A section is devoted to the tragic suicide of his son, Siddharth who was suffering from schizophrenia.
Adding that he intentionally wrote ‘Stories I must Tell’ as a series of overlapping tales so as to make it “unputdownable”, Bedi remembers his initial struggle with writing. “The problem was figuring out how to tell my story — I knew I had a good one to share. I made a number of attempts, but threw out the pages feeling that it was not interesting enough to read. It was not something that would keep me engrossed as a reader.”
One morning, sipping his tea at the dining table, he remembered his conversation with the late author Khushwant Singh who had told him that for him writing meant keeping the phone off the hook and deciding on a time to sit on the table — and following it religiously.
“That was it, suddenly, the next day I started seeing the book as a series of short stories to be written in an overlapping time. That gave me the the freedom to go back and forth in time zones — touching different people and telling my tale in a non-linear way. I wrote in a frenzy. It took me nine months to get the script out. I worked like a man possessed.”
The author admits that he has been writing for a long time — for the past 10 years, but would always stop after 50-6- pages. “I would always tell myself — only a die-hard fan may read this, but I wanted to reach out to everyone, especially young professionals. And those who wanted to know what it was like to live in the sixties and the seventies, and experience Hollywood and Europe.”
For Bedi, ‘Stories I must Tell’ is a long catalogue of his accolades and achievements. “I wanted to connect in a human, emotional way. And I had put up a sticker above my computer that said, ‘Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable’.”
Stressing that not just the book, but everything in life is a learning, the author emphasises that both achievements and mistakes play an instrumental role in that process — something that never ceases. “There are different phases in your life. What comes across to me is that I had the courage to say that it was the turning point in my life. Whether it was my time based in Delhi, or my career in advertising, or Bollywood, Europe, America. There were always turning points in my life that always looked out to new horizons. Even now the process goes on.”
A voracious reader, who has always been writing articles, Bedi feels that there is another book inside him. “A writer is somebody who writes regularly. Considering I have enjoyed the entire process of being an author, I certainly intend to put time into it. Once I am finished with the launch of this book, I certainly will get down into another bit of frenzied writing.”
Still open to acting, the actor, who was also a part of the long running “The Bold and the Beautiful” is waiting for the right project to come his way. “Whether on an OTT platform in India, or a film in America — everything is possible. I am willing, able and fit, and people know who I am.”
Optimistic that OTT platforms will continue to redefine the experience for their viewers, the actor says that they are a peculiar and wonderful hybrid between film and television.
“Not only have they opened up new avenues of creativity — for writers, directors and actors, but have given story-telling a chance to play in a way that it has not before. The long-form, which has become addictive for binge-watching. Films will always be films but long-running series on television have their devoted following. Something very exciting is happening in the world of OTT platforms. And I am one of its biggest fans.”