By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
A man who lived his life king size! Tall, dark and handsome, this theatre artist turned actor’s career spanned three continents (India, US and European countries) in three media (film, theatre and television).
He was one of the few actors who gained fame from the West, through his role of an odious henchman, Gobinda in the James Bond film, Octopussy. We are talking about none other than, Kabir Bedi who is known in the Hindi film industry for his roles in Khoon Bhari Maang, Main Hoon Na and many more. Kabir has always been in the headlines for his hippie lifestyle and his love life. And while his professional life has been praiseworthy, his personal life has been a rough journey. Let’s find out the five women who were a part of his life.
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The first of his many marriages was way back in 1969 with a model and Odissi dancer, Protima Gupta. Protima was tagged as one of the most seductress models of her era and was always in the headlines for the choices of her modelling assignments. When she met Kabir, she was already a popular choice as an artist in theatre plays as well. Kabir and Protima wanted to have a love marriage, so the couple eloped and tied the knot at a private court wedding because Protima’s parents opposed their decision. They got married in Mumbai in 1969 and everything was going well between them in the beginning. But their marriage hit the rocks in the late 1970s and they got divorced somewhere around the year 1977.
Kabir and Protima were blessed with two kids, their daughter Pooja Bedi in 1970 and Siddharth Bedi in 1971. Siddharth tragically took his life in 1997 after years of suffering from Schizophrenia. Because of this, Promita suffered from depression and left for a pilgrimage to the Himalayas. In 1998, Protima was pronounced dead in the mishap at Pithoragarh, Uttarakhand. Protima talked about their split in an interview:
“Any woman in Kabir’s life is just a small part of his existence. He had told me when we first got together. His career came first, his friends second and his family and woman third. That’s the way it is with Kabir. There is nothing fair or unfair about it. He has worked hard for it(success) and cannot allow any barrier to come in his way…Kabir is and always will be my king. There cannot be another Kabir Bedi in my life.”
During the late 1970s, Kabir’s and Protima hit the rocks and Kabir got into a relationship with the Bollywood diva Parveen Babi. Their relationship was tagged as a carnal one – a messy relationship and Promita elaborated the reason behind Kabir finding an escape in Parveen as ‘lack of sexual attraction’ between the couple. Surprisingly Promita allowed Kabir to have a fling with the actress and reacted positively to his infatuation. In an interview, Promita said:
“I wanted them to have fun, a great time but on the same time I’d told Parveen not to get too serious about Kabir. And I was unfaithful to Kabir. When he finally left home to shack with Parveen I was relieved! When Parveen came into his life Kabir was trying to escape from me.”
According to the speculations, it was Protima’s guilt of indulging in infidelity that she encouraged Kabir to make advances towards Praveen. But when Kabir permanently left Protima and their two children for the actress, it came as a shock to her. She later realised that her casual outlook towards her husband’s fling eventually resulted in her separation with him. Parveen also realised that her fiery romance with Kabir was nothing but the second fiddle for a married man, escaping his wife. The distance and work commitments took a toll on their relationship and Parveen’s dignity didn’t allow her to leave her life and status for a guy and roam around with him jobless being Kabir’s “tag”. In an interview, Praveen said:
“I do admit that (Kabir’s international career) changed things for us. Our lifestyles weren’t right for each other… Anyway I would never have gone into a marriage with Kabir just to keep him by my side.”
Around 1977, Kabir ended his relationship with Parveen as well, exactly around the time he got divorced from his wife. Check out the interview of Protima and Parveen Babi from the September edition of Stardust in 1977:
Kabir’s second marriage was with an American model, Susan Humphreys in 1980, soon after his divorce from wife Protima and breakup from his affair with Praveen. Kabir and Susan met when Kabir was in the US for a modelling assignment. Their marriage is a mystery as there’s very little information about their first encounter and courtship period. Kabir and Susan were blessed with a son, Adam Bedi in 1981 who works as a model. The couple separated in the late 1980s for the reasons best known to them and their marriage ended up in divorce in 1990.
Kabir apparently met his third wife in London in the year 1991. He fell in love with this popular BBC radio presenter, Nikki Moolgaoker and married her in 1992. Nikki, who is 20 years younger to Kabir, made her debut on Indian television with talk show Nikki Tonight in the mid-1990s. When the show got off-air in 1995, Nikki went back to London. Considering distance being Kabir’s predominant reason for his breakup and divorce with Praveen and Promita, he managed to sustain his third marriage despite being miles apart.
In an interview, Nikki said, “Ours is a transcontinental marriage… There’s no routine, no drudgery. Of course, it would be completely different if children were involved.” But their marriage didn’t survive this practice for long and they got separated in 2004. The couple got divorced in 2005 on an amicable note so much that Nikki kept her husband’s surname with her.
Post his divorce in 2005 with Nikki Bedi, he got into a relationship with London-based Indian social researcher Parveen Dusanj. Because of the nature of her work, she could travel freely with Kabir and eventually moved her base to Mumbai with Kabir. The couple started making public appearances together and were open about their live-in irrespective of the age gap of 26 years between them. But Kabir’s daughter, Pooja showed her dislike towards her father’s lady-love. Kabir and Parveen used to stay in the same flat which he had earlier transferred to Pooja’s name. Pooja asked the couple to leave that house and she said that Parveen has created distance between her and Kabir, and it would worsen if the two got married.
About the incident of Pooja asking Kabir and Parveen to leave the house, Kabir said, “There was a disagreement. She wanted me to leave the family house that I only had given to her… I left the house. She certainly doesn’t like Parveen… But, when she dragged Parveen into this, it saddened me the most.”
The interesting point is Parveen and Pooja are in their 40s which puts them in the same age bracket. Pooja is 3 years older than Parveen. Pooja was not happy with her father marrying a woman who is almost same the age as her. Pooja always gave mixed statements about his father. While she loved and respected her father, she disapproved of his love interest. But despite Pooja’s disapproval of her father’s love life, Kabir and Parveen took their relationship to the next level and Kabir proposed marriage to Parveen in Rome in 2011.
On the day of Kabir’s 70th birthday, the couple got into wedlock. His reception party was combined with his birthday celebrations, but many guests were unaware of his marriage, so it came as a surprise when Kabir announced Parveen as Mrs Kabir Bedi. As expected, Pooja skipped the celebrations for obvious reasons, but she tweeted her feelings on Twitter about her father’s new bride.
Post-wedding, Parveen talked about Pooja’s tweet and felt that she was being made a scapegoat in Kabir-Pooja dispute. On being of the same age as Pooja, Parveen said, “I don’t know how old she is… I choose to live in my cocoon and not focus on the negatives.”
Finally, after getting involved with so many women, Kabir Bedi found his soulmate. Talking about his three failed marriages, Kabir said, “In social terms, exceptions apart, the man has the economic responsibilities to fulfil. I’ve always fulfilled my economic responsibilities in every relationship of mine – even if it meant starting all over again for me. I’ve given away most of my tangible assets, every time I departed in a relationship.”
On marrying Parveen, he said, “Delighted to be married for the last time! Parveen and I have been together for 10 years, living in London, Rome, and Mumbai, so marriage was the most natural step forward.”
When you really love someone, age is just a number then. It is true in the case of Kabir Bedi. Despite being in three failed marriages and one failed relationship, Kabir has finally found his soulmate in Parveen and they are now happily living their married life together.