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Kabir Bedi on his relationship with Parveen Babi, Protima: Went from one emotionally draining woman to another



Kabir Bedi on Parveen Babi and Protima Gupta: Went from one emotionally draining woman to another

Veteran actor Kabir Bedi has opened up about his personal and professional relationships in his upcoming memoir, Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Journey of an Actor. The actor has given a detailed account of his failed marriage with Odissi dancer Protima Gupta and his relationship with late Bollywood star Parveen Babi and their break up. 

Kabir mentioned that he was in an open marriage with Protima which he did not like and it was causing him anxiety. “Our open marriage may have seemed like a good idea at first. In the end, it only caused me greater anxiety. It had led to a lack of intimacy between us. I didn’t feel the love that I wanted, the caring and sharing I needed. Nor was I able to give it. The old magic had gone. I was feeling alone, empty and dejected. Parveen Babi filled that void. She was a ravishingly beautiful actress with fair skin, long black hair and dark, mesmerising eyes. Until then, I’d always thought of her as ‘the girlfriend of Danny Denzongpa’. He was a good-looking Sikkimese actor, two years younger than me, a year older than Parveen. In the years ahead, he would become a highly successful villain in Bollywood and be nominated for many Filmfare Awards.”

“Parveen began her rapid rise to stardom during their four years together. Her living openly with Danny, wearing jeans and smoking in public, had given her a bohemian image in India. But, morally, she was a conservative Gujarati girl. While the rest of the Juhu gang talked about the ‘free sex’ preaching of Guru Osho, she believed in sexual fidelity. It’s what I was looking for when I fell in love with her,” an excerpt from his book, published by a leading daily, read.

He also tells that how he broke the news to Protima and ended things with her. He wrote, “There was no easy way to break the news (to Protima). ‘I’m going over to Parveen’s tonight,’ I said softly when she came in. ‘Parveen’s!’ she repeated in surprise. I could see her computing what must have happened. ‘But I’ve only just arrived. Can’t you stay tonight at least?’ I shook my head. ‘No, I have to be with her tonight … and every night.’ In that moment, she realised that our relationship had changed forever. She let out a deep breath and looked at me. ‘Do you love her?’ I nodded, not without sadness. ‘Does she love you?’ she asked, her voice a notch higher. ‘Yes,’ I said gruffly, wanting to cry. I knew I was ending a relationship where we’d shared life-changing experiences together, happy and unhappy, moral and immoral, for six tumultuous years. But I didn’t want to show vulnerability. I had to be strong to end it. I held her by the shoulders to embrace her goodbye. She clung to me and burst out crying. Then she sat down on the bed and sighed deeply before she spoke. ‘Please leave me alone now,’ she said in a firm voice as tears welled in her eyes. ‘Leave me alone. Please go!’ Our ‘open marriage’ was over.”

Kabir and Protima got divorced in 1977. They had a daughter together, actor Pooja Bedi. 

However, things between Kabir and Parveen did not go the way he had thought. In fact, it all went really bad between the two. Kabir felt for Parveen as she was suffering from mental health issues and wanted to help her but the actress did not let him. And Kabir felt mentally and emotionally exhausted.

“In my days alone, I looked back on all we had shared. I remembered our love and passion. I felt for her suffering mind. But my long-suppressed resentments flared as well. I rued the shadows Parveen had cast on my most joyful years. I reminded myself it wasn’t her fault. Perhaps I was equally to blame. Maybe I should have walked away earlier. Yet I couldn’t; she’d needed me desperately. I’d seen myself as her protector. By then, I was mentally and emotionally exhausted. I’d gone from one emotionally draining woman to another, without a pause in between, leaving me no time for myself. People may think ‘what a lucky guy for having one beautiful woman after another. Only I know the price I paid for being an impulsively emotional man,” an excerpt from his book read.

Parveen died in 2005 after suffering multiple organ failure. Kabir has also talked about her death in his memoir,”In the end, I learned how Parveen had died. Her body was found in her Juhu flat four days after she died, a leg rotted by gangrene, a wheelchair by her bed. A lonely and tragic end of a star who had once been the fantasy of millions. Three men who had known and loved her — Mahesh, Danny and I — came for her funeral at the Muslim cemetery in Juhu. It was a solemn burial with Islamic rites and chants. We carried her body with relatives to a dimly lit grave. I felt for all she had suffered with a sorrow that came from my depths. Each of us had known her in ways not many knew. Each of us had loved her as only each one knew.”

Recently, Salman Khan unveiled the cover of Kabir Bedi’s memoir, ‘Stories I Must Tell’. “Stories I Must Tell: The Emotional Life Of An Actor” is about the highs and lows of Kabir Bedi’s professional and personal life, his tumultuous relationships, including marriage and divorce, why his beliefs have changed, his wrenching setbacks, his exciting days in India, Europe, and Hollywood, and how he made India proud.

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