Actor, presenter, writer, director, and man with the gorgeous baritone – Kabir Bedi is a multi-faceted, internationally-known personality. He has won several honours in the course of his professional life, including being a voting member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is responsible for presenting the Oscar awards. He was also officially knighted by decree of the President of the Italian Republic. Famous for playing the villain’s aide in the James Bond film Octopussy (1983), Bedi has acted in over 60 Hindi films in his career. He has also played key roles in international films such as The Beast of War (1988), and the award-winning Italian film Andata Ritorno (2004), by Marco Ponti. Kabir Bedi remains popular in Italy and Europe for his role as the pirate Sandokan in the record-breaking Italian television series of the same name.
He was born on 16 January, 1946, one of three children born into a family that was keenly involved in India’s freedom struggle. While his mother, Freda Bedi, a Britisher, became famous as the first Western woman to be ordained into Tibetan Buddhism, his father, Baba Pyare Lal Singh Bedi, a Punjabi Sikh, was an author and philosopher. Schooled at Sherwood College, Nainital, Uttarakhand, Kabir graduated from St. Stephen's College, University of Delhi. Starting his career with theatre, he went on to make his debut in Hindi films as well as debuting in the international arena. Among the projects he has featured in over the decades are Hulchul (1971), Manzilein Aur Bhi Hain (1974), Anari (1975), Nagin (1976), The Black Corsair (Italy, 1976), La tigre è ancora viva: Sandokan alla riscossa! (1977), Aakhri Kasam (1979), The Archer: Fugitive from the Empire (1981), Counterforce (1988), Police Public (1990), Kurbaan (1991), Dil Aashna Hai (1992), Kshatriya (1993), Salaami (1994), The Return of Sandokan (1996), Kohram (1999), The Lost Empire (2001), Kranti (2002), Talaash: The Hunt Begins... (2003), Rudraksh (2004), Bewafaa (2005), Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005), Do Raha (2006), Showman (2008), Blue (2009), Kites (2010), Yaara o Dildaara (2011), Dilwale (2015), Teraa Surroor (2016), Mohenjo Daro (2016), and Saheb, Biwi Aur Gangster 3 (2018).
His stage career has seen his perform a range of powerful roles including Shakespeare’s Othello, King Tughlaq, and an alcoholic in The Vultures. Performing internationally, he has featured in the West End musical adaptation of M. M. Kaye’s novel, The Far Pavilions at the Shaftesbury Theatre, London, as well as the John Murrell-written play in Toronto, in which he essayed Emperor Shah Jahan at the Luminato Festival.
Bedi’s successful television career has seen him essay extensive roles on American television including primetime and daytime, series and miniseries. These include Hallmark’s African epic Forbidden Territory, Ken Follett’s On Wings of Eagles, Red Eagle and The Lost Empire, for NBC. He has appeared on classic shows such as Dynasty, Murder She Wrote, Magnum, P.I., Hunter, Knight Rider and Highlander: The Series. Needless to say, his greatest success in Europe was Sandokan, the tale of a romantic Asian pirate set in British colonial times. This Italian-German-French TV series broke viewership records across Europe. More recently, Kabir starred in a prime-time Italian television series, Un Medico In Famiglia, on RAI TV, the country’s biggest broadcaster. In another significant achievement, Kabir starred for over a year in the wildly popular The Bold and the Beautiful. The show, which is the second most-watched television show in the world, was watched by over a billion people in 149 countries. He also hosted his own cinematic talk show on Indian TV, Director’s Cut. This 13-part special series saw him interviewing the country’s leading directors.
Gifted with a deep and attractive voice, Kabir Bedi has also worked extensively in dubbing and voiceover work. Besides voicing several ads over the decades, he also lent his voice to the character of Mufasa in the Hindi version of Disney's The Lion King (2019). Also active on radio, he starred in Chat (2007), a radio show aired by RAI Radio2, in the role of Sandokan. He also did a series of Radio One programmes titled, 'Women of Gold' and 'Men of Steel' in honour of industry champions in India, followed by another series in English for Radio One, titled 'Ten on Ten' which celebrated top ten innovations out of India. A regular contributor to Indian publications on political and social issues, he also participates on debates on Indian national television. He is also brand ambassador of international development organisation, Sightsavers, creating awareness about eye health and care in India.
Kabir Bedi holds the highest-ranking civilian honour of the Italian Republic, bestowed the title of “Cavaliere” (Knight) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He also holds an Honorary Degree from Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT) University, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.
On the personal front, Bedi married four times—to Odissi dancer Protima Bedi (they had two children - Pooja Bedi and the deceased Siddharth), fashion designer Susan Humphreys (they had a son, Adam), TV and radio presenter Nikki Bedi, and the British-born Parveen Dusanj.