When we sat for an interview with Kabir Bedi, he had just finished signing autographs and taking pictures with fans at Hotel Le Méridien on Friday, 14 July.
A veteran Bollywood actor, the 77-year-old Bedi – who looked as fit as ever – made it big in Hollywood as well as in European cinema but his humility spoke volumes.
Even on Thursday night, the confirmation for the exclusive interview evaded us. So, our excitement was at its peak when we sat down with Kabir Bedi. What you are about to read from here on is our 20-minute encounter with the superstar - sure to last a lifetime.
The name's da, Gobinda
If you get that reference, you are a true 007 fan. We are referring to Gobinda, a major antagonist from Roger Moore's 1983 Bond film 'Octopussy', portrayed by Bedi.
"You know… acting in a Bond film is always a very special experience because any actor who plays any sort of a role in a Bond film suddenly becomes a person of great interest to the entire Bond universe, consisting of millions of fans across the world. So, you can imagine the degree of attention you get," said Bedi.
However, the global attention that Bedi now boasts of was not easy to come by, especially in Hollywood because, at the time, no one was writing roles for Asian actors.
To make it big in the Western cinematic world, Bedi had to fight against the connotation of not being a homegrown talent and therefore diversify and adapt to a multitude of acting gigs to stay in business, awaiting a 'perfect' cast, which finally came through Octopussy.
"The only place where I was cast absolutely correctly was in the James Bond film where I played the role of a Sikh. Even in The Bold and the Beautiful, I played a Moroccan prince," said Bedi.
And who is your favourite 007? "Sean Connery is my all-time favourite and Daniel Craig comes second. He is fabulous because he brought back a certain rugged masculinity to the Bond character," Bedi excitedly replied.
From an advertiser to an actor
"Acting has always been my hobby but I never planned to be one professionally," Bedi said, explaining how his career as an advertiser took a sharp turn to an actor.
He had initially planned to be a director for which he came to Mumbai and joined advertising to learn more about filmmaking. "I made a lot of ads. I spent five years in advertising before I became an actor.
Acting happened because I was picked to do a play called 'Tughlaq'. It became the biggest hit in Bombay theatre history," he said.
His most meaningful and beautiful memories in Europe come from the success of the Italian television series 'Sandokan,' which made him a star across Europe.
"In the West, I guess my fondest memory would be acting in Octopussy and in India would be Khoon Bhari Maang," Bedi added. The latter was a huge hit in the 1980s where Bedi acted as the cruel and deceitful husband opposite superstar Rekha.
Accolades and knighthood
In 1982, just a year before filming for Octopussy, Bedi was made a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He is also a voting member of the Screen Actors Guild. "It is an enormous privilege to be one of the voters because it is not an organisation you can just join by applying, you have to be asked to join," he said.
"We cast our votes but even we don't know who will win till the envelope is opened on the night of the Oscars," he added.
On 2 June 2010, Bedi was officially knighted. He was bestowed with the title of 'Cavaliere' of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, the highest-ranking civilian honour of the Italian Republic.
"It's a very rare honour for anybody and I feel deeply honoured. But it's not because of the success of the Sandokan series but of the body of work I've done with the Italians. Most of what I've done throughout my life was between Italy and India," he said.
A lifetime dedicated to the world of cinema but, to our surprise, Kabir Bedi is still ready for more projects.
"No one can do everything but I'm still looking for roles that are powerful, that give me a way of expressing the power that I can bring to the screen. I'll explore newer roles but mainly I love the challenge of things because you know that's what keeps you alive. What's exciting is when you are doing something that you are scared of failing in," Bedi explained.
In 2007, he played Sandokan in the radio programme 'Chat,' which was broadcast by RAI Radio2. He produced a series of Radio One shows in 2012 called 'Women of Gold' and 'Men of Steel.' He produced another series in English, 'Ten on Ten', for Radio One in 2017, which highlighted the top 10 Indian innovations.
At this point, if you are wondering what brought Bedi to his first Bangladesh tour, it was his love for mysticism and his desire to discover a new land whilst tapping into a fan base with a taste for the spiritual side of life.
He came to preach the teachings of Jalal Uddin Rumi. In his deep and powerful voice, Bedi recited some of Rumi's finest poetries to a spellbound audience at Le Méridien. The event was titled 'Ode to Rumi Featuring Kabir Bedi', organised by Creinse Limited.
"There's always a certain natural talent that's there but the fact is when you have had a career on three continents from Bollywood to Hollywood to Europe to theatre to the film stage, you learn how to use the voice as well. So, you build on the natural gifts that you're given but you still have to do some reyaz (rehearsal)," he said.
But why mysticism? "Mysticism and religion have always been an integral part of my life. The quest of my life has always been to find out what the reality is of it all because religions always talk about values and truth. The one thing they all agree on is the mystical experience," Bedi answered.
And lastly, do you ever get tired of all this fanfare? "Absolutely not! Firstly because that's what we work for and it is the source of my power. We're only valuable because people want us. We work to get it, we shouldn't resent it," he replied.
"I always say to myself, it's one minute of my time but it's a lifetime of memories for them," Bedi concluded.