BAZODEE – a new style Bollywood musical with a distinctly Caribbean island flavor – releases in theaters nationwide this Friday, August 5. Legendary actor Kabir Bedi stars in this hotly anticipated film delivering a very different kind of role.
Anita Ponchouri (Natalie Perera), the dutiful Indian daughter of a deep-in-debt businessman (Kabir Bedi) is about to marry a wealthy Londoner (Staz Nair) when a chance encounter with local Trinidadian singer, Lee de Leon (Soca music star Machel Montano) sets things askew. In search of a muse, de Leon agrees to perform at the engagement party. Unable to deny their mutual attraction, and with the excitement of Carnival approaching, Anita must now choose between the answer to her family’s financial prayers and the possibility of real love.
Set on the vivid, colorful islands of Trinidad & Tobago and pulsing with the sensuous dance rhythms of soca music, BAZODEE is a new style Bollywood musical with a distinctly Caribbean island flavor.
This description sounds straight from a Bollywood potboiler, right? Except that it’s not. This is the premise of “Bazodee,” a soca (a genre of Caribbean music)-infused Bollywood-style international film starring acclaimed Indian actor Kabir Bedi, British actress Natalie Perera, Indian-Russian actor Staz Nair, and Trinidadian soca singer-record producer-songwriter Machel Montano. This global star cast was directed by American filmmaker Todd Kessler (“Bloodline”).
“This is a story about people of the Indian diaspora,” Bedi, who plays businessman Ram Panchouri, told India-West. “It was also a coming together of the West Indian world and the Indian world.”
This grand visual narrative with a distinctly Caribbean island flavor, which unfolds on the vivid, colorful twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, saw its international premiere in New York at the PlayStation Theatre, Times Square, July 27.
“Bazodee,” a Trinidadian slang, which translates to a state of dizziness or confusion – often used with regards to love or infatuation — will remind people of India and all things Indian, said the actor who starred in the 1983 James Bond film, “Octopussy.”
“There is so much Indianess in the film that people are really going to enjoy it because you can relate to these people, these families, the music, the crazy things that happen when people fall in love,” he told India-West.
This light-hearted take on love, Bedi said, will make an emotional connect and resonate with the Indian diaspora. “It’s a family entertainer and reflecting the experience of Indian families living abroad,” he explained. “That’s what attracted me to it, and also it gave me the opportunity to play a much lighter role than I normally play, a much more playful performance. I hope people are going to enjoy it.”
The film, which showcases the unique and distinct cultural identity of the island of Trinidad and Tobago, is also loaded with sequences reflecting the cultural similarities between the island nation and India. This intersection of music and culture, Bedi said, made the whole filming experience extra special.
“There is this thing that they serve which looks like ‘chhole bhature’ to us but it’s something called ‘doubles’ out there,” he said. “There is Bollywood music everywhere you go. You’ll get the sense of the Indians of the diaspora, which is what our viewers are.”
The prolific actor, who has worked in theater, movies and television spanning three continents and in several languages, is also awaiting the release of the Ashutosh Gowariker-directed epic adventure-romance film, “Mohenjo Daro.” The film, set in the ancient city of Mohenjo Daro, Sindh Pakistan, in the era of the Indus Valley civilization that dates back to 2600 BC, and which stars Hrithik Roshan in the lead role, casts him in a pivotal role. Bedi, who plays Maham, a despot who rules Mohenjo Daro using uninhibited force and violence, is making quite an impression on the audiences in the trailer of the film.
“I have a very powerful and strong role in the movie,” Bedi said. “It’s a great film. I want people to see ‘Bazodee’ and then see ‘Mohenjo Daro.’ I want two weekends from them. Each will be a very different experience and entertaining experience.”
Bedi, last seen in a cameo in the Shahrukh Khan starrer “Dilwale,” told India-West that theater in Canada and films in Italy have kept him busy all this while, adding that he will be seen in an Italian film, the details of which he could not reveal at the moment.
Talking about his role in “Mohenjo Daro,” Bedi said, “It’s the first big role that I am doing in a while. And I really saved myself for that. I got a lot of smaller offers that I wasn’t interested in. But this was a role I could really get my teeth into. I am very happy with the role and the film.”
Since 1982, Bedi has been a voting member of the prestigious Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which decides each year’s Oscar nominees and winners. He is also the recipient of the highest ranking civilian honor by the Italian Republic and was bestowed the title of “Cavaliere” (Knight) of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.
“All these things give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that you have achieved certain benchmarks, but the best is yet to come, I always say,” Bedi told India-West. “And hopefully you’ll see some of that in August.”
“Bazodee” hits theaters in the U.S. Aug. 5 and “Mohenjo Daro” releases Aug. 12.
Kabir Bedi sat down to discuss his latest movie role in BAZODEE in this exclusive new interview:
Tell us about your character Ram Panchouri in BAZODEE and his storyline.
Basically Ram is a guy who is an NRI like a lot of people, and he is living in the West Indies and his daughter is getting married to the son of an equally nice industrial family from England that is very well-to-do. But the truth is that I am deeply in debt so when my daughter decides to do things I wouldn’t want her to it really complicates life a lot. So it’s really the story of a man fighting for survival but yet dealing with his daughter’s heart going in a different way. It’s a film of fun, it’s Calypso, it’s Soca music, it’s the glory of the West Indies setting and of course Machel Montano’s incredible music that takes it to another level. It’s a fun film to see for the family.
How was this character different from many of the other characters you’ve played in your extensive career?
It’s a lot different! It’s a lighter side of me, it’s a far more playful side of me. I mean I’ve played an Asian pirate, and in the James Bond film Octopussy I fought Roger Moore throughout the film, I’ve played Shah Jahan on stage and on screen, so those are serious characters. This is a much more pop role. Interestingly different!
What was it like filming in Trinidad & Tobago? Any specific things you enjoyed there?
I just loved the feeling of Trinidad & Tobago and the warmth of the people. There’s also the spectacular Maracas Beach out there where you have big shark sandwiches which are just incredible! And there is such a great music tradition there too so it’s a lovely place to be and to film and to meet people and get to know another country. It’s a country worth knowing! And Tobago reminds me of Goa from 30 or 40 years ago, really peaceful and beautiful beaches. Pigeon Point Beach was extremely beautiful to see there too.
What are some of the themes in BAZODEE that those in the Indian diaspora would be able to relate to?
It’s our story! It’s a story of people like us. And therefore if you want your stories to be told you must see and support them and go out and see them. That’s part of the process. I think it’s a film people will enjoy in the diaspora because it’s about them.
What are some of your favorite places in the U.S to visit?
I stayed in Los Angeles for 15 years in the 1970s and 80s and I certainly have a deep and abiding love for L.A. It was a wonderful place for me because when I did the series The Bold and the Beautiful, I got to know the cast and got to know all the subcultures there and the fans that surround that. You have the sea, you have the mountains, wide roads for driving, smooth cars to drive, it’s a creative community, I had an enormously productive time in L.A. And of course San Francisco too. I adore San Francisco, so much beauty. Boston is where my sister is and I love going to the Northeast. New York I enjoy too. Houston, Orlando, Miami, a lot of special places for me there!