Saturday 30 March 2013


Why Pardon Sanjay Dutt?
Kabir Bedi

“Sentencing Sanjay Dutt for illegal arms may be just, but charging him in 1993 blasts case, as if conspirator, was unjust.” I tweeted this on March 22nd, two days after Sanjay Dutt had been sentenced to 5 years rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court. After all, he was unquestionably guilty of possessing illegal arms, and the court had given him the minimum sentence mandated by law. So the verdict was just.

But that’s not the whole story. For 20 years of his life Sanjay Dutt lived with the fear of being convicted, as a leading paper put it -- even after the verdict -- “for his role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that killed 257 people”. Guilt by association has been the widespread perception among people who don’t dwell on the fine print. Let’s be clear on two facts: Sanjay was acquitted of any role in the murderous conspiracy that savaged Mumbai. He was only found guilty of possessing arms illegally. True, he had been befriended by notorious gangsters long before that, who also sent him the arms he’d asked for. Sadly, that was deemed enough to include him in the Blasts Case against terrorists. So he lived with the stigma of presumed guilt, for two long decades, for a horrendous carnage he never committed. One can only imagine what he must have suffered while being tried alongside traitors to the nation

Is that reason enough to pardon Sanjay Dutt? There are those who say that the matter ends with the Supreme Court’s judgement of guilt, that he should do his time like everyone else, and, even more pointedly, being a celebrity doesn’t merit any favours. The law must be the same for all, followed to the letter. By the same token, say his supporters, the law also allows for convicts being pardoned on appeal. No precedent would be set, enough pardons exist on record for deserving cases. So the real question is whether Sanjay Dutt deserves to be pardoned, or not. Even if he says he won’t ask for a pardon, others can still appeal to the  Governor or the President to do so.

When considering a pardon, the State is bound to look at the wider picture. Not just the crime itself, but why it was committed. Not just the case, but the circumstances surrounding it. Not just the verdict, but whether justice is best served by enforcing it. All of which raise important questions.

Why did Sanjay Dutt amass illegal arms? His defence is that wide-spread riots and deaths had recently occurred in Mumbai, and if attacked his family would have been defenceless without armed protection. A judge may not excuse that in court, bound by the letter of the law, but on appeal the State can consider all extenuating circumstances. Even among those who dismiss Sanjay’s argument of self-defence, only the most fanatical would believe that he planned to go on a shooting spree against the citizens of the city he has loved since childhood. Though he broke the law, say his supporters, there was clearly no evil intent. Laws are made for the protection of society. If a man’s illegal act did not endanger anyone, that should be a mitigating factor.

What is the purpose of justice? The letter of the law cannot be greater than it’s purpose: punishment, repentance and reformation. As constitutional expert Rajeev Dhavan says “We know only punish and don’t punish. We do nothing to reform prisoners, or take note of those already reformed.” Sanjay’s supporters say he has been punished enough. He’s already spent 18 months in jail. His career was ruined for over 5 years after his release. More importantly, 20 years of humiliation, under false charges of conspiracy, was a terrible punishment too. Imprisoning him for another three and a half years would be overkill. Even the judge had accepted his defence, but had to give him the minimum sentence mandated by law. Only the State can pardon him, as it has done in many deserving cases.

Sanjay Dutt is a good guy who made a stupid mistake. He’s contributed  lot to society, and he’s suffered greatly. And, let’s not forget, he committed  a victimless crime.

On the balance, there are enough reasons to pardon him. What kind of pardon could Sanjay Dutt be given? Which would be the best option: 1) outright forgiveness of his remaining sentence, 2) a partial remission, 3) a fair period of meaningful community service for the good of society? The last option, in my view, would more than meet the needs of justice.

Kabir Bedi is an international actor, commentator, columnist, and India's leading presenter of events. Twitter: @iKabirBedi


Wednesday 7 December 2011




Now they’re after the Blackberry. Since “terrorists might use” Blackberry’s email and messaging services, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) wants the master keys to their encryption. Blackberry says there are no master keys, each users code is designed to be unique. So the MHA is threatening to ban them in India. Who will blink first?

The Home Ministry has always been doggedly resistant to technological advances. For decades, their techno-phobic mindsets led to the banning of walkie-talkies on film locations ---“terrorist might use them” --- and the denial of radio taxi services in India, long after it was common across the world. Remember when they’d confiscate our music batteries at airports? Then they went after the Indian telecoms, who are being forced, at an astronomical cost, to make every mobile tappable, and to personally verify owners of the 500 million mobiles in India. It’s a free lunch for the ministry who won’t be paying a penny.

To what end? None of these policies have prevented terrorists from communicating effectively. But they have seriously inconvenienced millions of bonafide customers, tourists, especially in “border states”. Kashmir was kept off the mobile map for many years. Even today whole swathes can’t use mobiles because, “terrorists may use them”. Damn the needs of all the rest.

The threat to India’s Blackberry services is frightening and real. Thuraya satellite phones have already been banned because the company refused to compromise the privacy of its worldwide users. A hapless globetrotting Brit is now languishing in prison for carrying it through the country without having used it once. Forget Thuraya’s unequalled reach in the Himalayan ranges, rural India, the Thar Desert, or the oil rigs at sea. Since “terrorists might use them” nothing else seems to count.
We are the greatest beneficiaries of a worldwide revolution in communications. The thrust of today’s technology is to enable people to reach each other in every way imaginable. Telephones, mobiles, smsing, email, Internet telephony, voicemail, multimedia messages, DVDs, online forums, file sharing and the plethora of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin et al), are creating endless ways for people to communicate with each other. Can the Home Ministry monitor and control them all?

It may be news to the Ministry but smart terrorists don’t use traceable communications like email. They simply file their messages in their ‘drafts’ folder, easily accessed by recipients who share their password. Or they communicate on porn sites. Or on obscure forums in other languages. Or in heavily coded messages. Or, quite simply, through any of the many social media networks using fake accounts. Terrorists are always one step ahead, their survival depends on it.

So going after Blackberry’s privacy is not just pointless, it’s bad policy. Individuals, corporates or countries, all have justified needs for secrecy. Who wants the intelligence agencies peeping into their sexual secrets, business secrets, state secrets? Should the Home ministry be given right to know everything about everybody? Threats from terrorists, however awful their crimes, should not give the state the right to override everyone’s legitimate needs for privacy. It’s a misuse of power.

The MHA’s fear factor is also souring tourism and business in India. One David Headley, a white man who turned out to be a terrorist, and all tourist visas to India are tarred on arrival. Passports are stamped “Not eligible to return to India for two months.” While bad guys always find their way in, with or without visas (remember 26/11?), frequent travellers are lamenting the fading allure of “Incredible India”. At the Foreigner’s Registration Office (FRRO) in Mumbai, those wanting a routine renewal of their Business Visas are told by the FRRO to fly to Delhi for Ministry clearance. Easy, huh? It’s a frog-in-the-well attitude that suspects every foreigner when we’ve exported 25 million of our own.

The antiquated mentality of the Home ministry hasn’t understood the uncontrollable openness of the digital age. Gone are the good old days when surveillance meant steaming open a letter, tapping a phone or intercepting a telegram. It’s a whole new world out there. Undeterred, like some authoritarian states, they’re planning to invade Google too. Next stop You Tube and Facebook? Hey, “terrorist might use them”. What about the legitimate rights of billions who aren’t terrorists?

But let’s be fair. Chidambaram, once a great Finance Minister, is performing admirably in a difficult “job”, as he calls it, as Home Minister. But it’s also his job to change the ministry’s outdated mindset, and drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Going after Blackberry’s 41 million worldwide customers --- 1 million in India alone --- will seriously disrupt the working lives of enormous numbers of people involved in India’s growth story. And it won’t stop terrorists from communicating. We live in dangerous times and we’re rooting for the good guys. But the Home Ministry shouldn’t expect the rest of the world to do their job for them. The tail can’t wag the dog.

Kabir Bedi is an international actor, producer and columnist.

Thursday 10 November 2011

BASANT by Freda Bedi

Poem in honour of Guru Baba Nanak on his 2011 Birthday "Gurpurab" 


Guru Nanak said to God
(white his beard as snow untrod)
Whatever tree or fruit it yields
Does mustard grow in the
Heavenly Fields?

Curd from the pitcher, well-water sweet
Out in the fields a man must eat;
Wholewheat bread and mustard grant
The heart of the Punjab is the sarson plant.

Where is the winter’s unsheathed lance?
Spring comes with a lyric and bhangra dance.
My daughter has yellow veils in her dower
The heart of the Punjab is the sarson flower’

Guru Baba Nanak, look
Tender your eyes like a country brook
Whatever tree or fruit it yields:
There’s a carpet of gold in the Heavenly Fields.

(From:“Rhymes for Ranga”, poems for children written in pre-Independence 1940’s, by my mother, Freda Bedi. Published in 2010 by Random House India.)

Saturday 22 October 2011


An edited version of this article was published in India's "Hindustan Times" Oct 19, 2011, titled "The I is not lower-cased: Age of the Individual is upon us. Rejoice."

The Incredible Brightness of Being 
Kabir Bedi

Think about this. Around 13 billion years ago, from a micro point in an endless void, erupted a universe so immense that all the grains of sand, on all the beaches of the world, don’t equal the hundred billion suns in our galaxy, the Milky Way, just one among a hundred billion galaxies in the vastness of space. How could everything that exists have come out of nothing? What triggered such an incredible cosmic convulsion? Scientists call it “Big Bang”, but don’t know why it happened. We can only marvel at how those exploding particles of matter eventually transformed themselves into organisms as intricate as human beings. Whatever started that journey, our existence is the greatest miracle of all.

If we measured ourselves on a cosmic scale, our egos would be slimmer than a mosquito under a sledgehammer. But we inhabit intersecting universes, the outer and inner. The worlds within us are probably as complex as the multiverse that surrounds us. The average human body has over ten trillion (10,000,000,000,000) cells, with 10 times as many microorganisms in our gut alone. The birth of a thinking, feeling human is as much a wonder as the creation of the cosmos. We are all loving, laughing, weeping miracles.
The human mind is also another dimension altogether. Within each of us are the seeds of every vice and virtue, every genius, every horror, that ever existed. We can be murderers, prostitutes and saints. An Einstein or a duffer. A Gandhi or a drunkard. A Steve Jobs or drug dealer. Not one of us is alike in mind, body or spirit. We all have our peculiarities, and that’s what differentiates us. Every human being is a unique experiment in consciousness.

Yet, for many, being different can be a perilous, painful path. From the cradle to grave, we are moulded to conform by family, community, religion and society. We are trained to bow before their norms, rules, and beliefs for many historical reasons. From earliest days as hunter-gatherers, humans realised that teams survived, individuals didn’t. Safety lay in numbers, the idea imbedded itself. With the advent of religion, thought control became a way of perpetuating the power of priests. Non-believers were shunned and shamed. They risked losing their family, their community and, often, their livelihood.

Opposing an established belief system has always been a risky business. Hinduism locked professions into a caste system for centuries, woe to him who defied it. Galileo was pounded into submission by the Catholic Church for daring to suggest that, contrary to what they believed, the earth orbited the sun. Muslims feared the threat of fatwas if they questioned their religion. Authoritarian regimes wielded the same terror: Communists, Nazis, Fascists, and dictators of every stripe, all made life hell for those who opposed them.

While it’s good to agree to drive on the same side of the road, conformity has rarely created anything revolutionary, progressive or life changing. Every inventor of importance had to go beyond conventional wisdom. Even as professors lectured on the impossibility of flight, the Wright Brothers took to the air. Christ, Buddha and Prophet Muhammad were all revolutionaries in their times, defying established belief systems. As Albert Camus said, “It is the rebels within society that make it dynamic”. Many contrarians have created new worlds.

Today, being unique is less of a hazard. With the spread of the Internet, and the ever-expanding forums of social media, we are moving beyond the control of monolithic power centres. We are entering the Age of the Individual. No matter how contrarian you are, you’ll find enough like-minded souls to give you the strength to be you. Even if it means moving beyond family, community, politics or religion.

Individuality always doesn’t have to be about big issues or inventions. It can be as simple as having the courage to speak up at a family dinner, even if called “outrageous”. Turning your passion into your profession, not being pressured by others expectations, or having an unusual lifestyle, whatever really matters to you. In the age of the Internet, we need not be so timid about unconventional ways, beliefs and ideas. What makes us individual are our differences, our idiosyncrasies, our eccentricities. Now there are many who will share your journey, and celebrate your individuality, each at the centre of their intersecting universes.

Kabir Bedi is an internationally renowned Indian actor and columnist, whose career spans Bollywood, Hollywood, England and Europe. He has been a voting member of the “Oscars Academy” (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) for almost three decades. . In December 2010, the Italian Government bestowed him a Knighthood, “Cavaliere”, its highest civilian honour. Twitter: @iKabirBedi


This article was originally printed in the TIMES OF INDIA on February 27th, 2011, titled “The Karmapa is an Icon, he Deserves more Respect.”   Updated and slightly revised.

Kabir Bedi

Almost everyone knows of the Dalai Lama. Not many Indians had heard of  “Karmapa Lama” before he recently burst into the news, accused of having 7.5 crores cash in foreign currencies, attempting benami land deals near Dharamsala and, worst of all, being a Chinese spy. So why are the Tibetan refugees themselves so angered by these accusations? Tenzin Tsundue, a leading activist, says, “This country that we are so grateful to is alleging the Karmapa is a spy for China. And we can’t understand that at all.” Many question the motives of the Indian intelligence agencies in leaking this allegation against the Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, ever since he came to India as a refugee in 2000.

Who exactly is the Karmapa? In a word, after the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa is the most important Tibetan Buddhist leader today. In Christian terms, the Karmapa would be like the Archbishop of Canterbury or the head of the Greek Orthodox Church, second only to the Pope. But the Karmapa’s Kagyu centres across the world, over 500, vastly outnumber the Dalai Lama’s Gelug centres. Most impressive for a 25 year old who left Tibet barely 11 years ago.

How did a monk so young acquire such enormous religious power so quickly? In a manner of speaking, he “inherited” it. The Tibetans have a well-established tradition of finding the reincarnation of their most important lamas to preserve the continuity of their religious orders. Sceptics may scoff at it, but even the Dalai Lama was discovered in this way, though he was just the son of a small farmer.

Selecting the reincarnation of the last Karmapa (the 16th), who died in 1981, turned out to be a more contentious issue. Those controversies are the root of the present 17th Karmapa’s problems with the Indian security services. He was discovered by high lamas, in a small village of nomads in eastern Tibet, exactly as predicted in a letter left by the last Karmapa. The Karmapa was enthroned, age 8, at Tsurphu monastery near Lhasa, and even recognised by the Chinese. But, unable to bear Chinese religious restrictions, the new Karmapa made, in the words of Time magazine, “a breath-taking escape” to India in January 2000, when he was only 14 years old. Even the Dalai Lama, surely the highest authority on Tibetan affairs, authenticated his status as the new Karmapa.

By then, another high-ranking Kagyu Lama, Shamar Rinpoche, had put forward his own rival candidate as the “real” Karmapa. This grew into a nasty conflict with wild accusations and allegations being hurled at the recognised Karmapa. Some think the Indian security agencies are backing the unrecognised Karmapa rival for darker motives of their own. Be that as it may, the persecution of the authenticated 17th Karmapa hasn’t stopped since the time of his arrival. Intelligence Bureau officials reportedly sit in on his meetings, and he is not allowed to visit anyone outside a 15 mile radius without police permission. It’s a policy that outrages the millions who believe in the historic lineage of the Karmapas. But that’s not half of it.

The previous Karmapa (16th), Rangjung Rigpe Dorje, was a bear of a man with great wisdom and wit, twinkling eyes, and a laugh that came from the belly. I knew him well. My mother, Freda Bedi, was ordained as a Tibetan Buddhist nun in his beautiful Rumtek monastery in Sikkim. The 16th Karmapa was also the “Raj Guru” of the royal families of Sikkim and Bhutan. Living in India as a refugee, he quickly turned his imposing Rumtek monastery into the most important hub of the Kagyu Order outside Tibet.

Despite his iconic status in the Buddhist world, his reincarnated successor, His Holiness Karmapa 17th, has been prevented from returning to his real home, Rumtek monastery, on the orders of the Home Ministry ever since he fled Tibet in 2000. Instructed to stay in Dharamsala, the Karmapa has been accommodated as an “honoured guest” in a small Gyuto monastery, belonging to the Dalai Lama, for the last 11 years. (Now even that monastery has been seized!) Even the Dalai Lama has been “asked” to live in Himachal Pradesh, which prohibits the sale of land to any outsiders. But, in exceptional circumstances, the Himachal government does give permission for such purchases. That permission had been applied for by the Karmapa’s office --- could there be a more exceptional case? --- while they looked for land. From news reports, it seems they had paid a seller an advance of 1 crore rupees, which was discovered and promptly seized by the Himachal police. That seizure led to raids on “the Karmapa’s monastery”, which resulted in the further seizure of 7 crores in 14 foreign currencies, including Chinese Yuans, the perfect fodder for leaking even more allegations about the Karmapa’s Chinese connections.

So what’s going on here? The Karmapa has legions of foreign devotees, including Chinese and Tibetan, who make donations in the currencies of their countries. The Karmapa’s office applied for, and received, permission to bank the money under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. Inexplicably, this permission was withdrawn after the first $100,000 was received and banked. The Karmapa’s re-application has been pending, and pending, since 2002. What’s a monk to do with a growing pile of donations that can’t be banked, except to keep it in cash and use it for expenses? With all that money now seized, how is the Karmapa expected to pay for the upkeep of all the monks, monasteries and nunneries that depend on him for support while the case winds its way through India’s serpentine judicial system?

If the Home Ministry has any proof of the Karmapa’s misdeeds, let them state their case, prosecute him, and be done with it. If there’s any financial impropriety in the land deal, let the law take its course. But preventing the Karmapa from returning to his historic monastery in Sikkim, refusing permission for his foreign tours (Update: they finally allowed him to vist America in July 2011), not allowing him to bank his donations, and treating him like a pariah for over a decade, makes Indian government look like an oppressive police state with no respect for religious sensibilities. It’s a disgraceful way to treat a Buddhist icon. How would we look if he sought asylum in a friendlier country?

Kabir Bedi is an international actor, producer and occasional columnist. He has been a voting member of the “Oscars Academy” (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) for almost three decades. In December 2010, the Italian Government knighted him, “Cavaliere”, its highest civilian honour.


This column was originally written in the aftermath of London's burning in early August, 2011, and syndicated by the IANS (Indo-Asian News Service) to publications around the world. Updated and revised.


By Kabir Bedi

London was burning the night I arrived on August 8th. Police sirens blared through the darkness, racing towards rioters ransacking shops and torching buildings in Croydon, Clapham and Peckham. The sheer number of vandals overwhelmed the police, brazenly pushing them back with stones, chairs and even firecrackers. BBC TV was a montage of red, yellow and orange flames burning away London’s faith in its safety.

Those haunting images brought back memories of horrific scenes I’d witnessed in recent years. Mumbai’s historic Taj Hotel engulfed in raging fires and smoke on November 26, 2008. The carnage of the London Underground bombings on July 7, 2005, when a double-decker bus also destroyed in Tavistock Square, near the West End theatre where I was performing in “The Far Pavilions”. Then again, I was in Madrid in March 2004, for the Spanish DVD release of my “Sandokan” series, when hundreds were killed with train bombings barely a mile from my hotel. And 9/11, which I’d watched, mesmerised, the day after I landed in Los Angeles. But those were savage acts of terrorism; London this night seemed more like an uprising. Dark thoughts crossed my mind. Were the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” going to be overshadowed by an “English Summer”? Something was seriously amiss. What the hell had happened here?

Mark Duggan, a black man with links to gangsters, had been followed and shot by the police in suspicious circumstances. A peaceful vigil by his family erupted into street violence that led to a chain reaction of rioting, looting and vandalism that spread rapidly across London, and then to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds, cities with huge immigrant populations from South Asia. Britain's 1981 race riots had also been triggered by a confrontation between a policeman and a civilian. I wondered whether the Asian immigrants in those cities would join the rioters in the free-for-all plunder of goods and shops that was shocking the world. Despite the obvious temptations, they did not. Amazingly, they became bulwarks in the defence of social order.

Sikhs in Southall stood guard even at mosques while Muslims prayed during Ramzan. In all the burning cities, South Asians organised groups to protect their neighbourhoods. On television they spoke out loudly against the chaos that had descended on their country. Tariq Jahan, a Muslim whose son was killed in Birmingham, made a heartfelt appeal to the rioters: “Step forward if you are willing to lose your sons. End this now. Please.”  In this crisis, the immigrants showed they were worthy citizens of their adopted country.

As Prime Minister David Cameron raced back from his holiday abroad and deployed 16,000 policemen onto London streets, order returned in some measure. Then the angry and vociferous questioning began. What caused such a violent conflagration? Race, said The Independent, “simmering resentments in the black community at being treated like criminals by the police”. But then, not all the vandals were black. Deprivation, said The Guardian, "this is what happens when people don't have anything… have their noses constantly rubbed in stuff they can't afford". Then again, many with good jobs and professions were among the looters. “Criminality, pure and simple”, said the Prime Minister. But it became clear that many had joined the rampage seeing an opportunity to rob without the fear of being caught among the thousands running amok. The debate rages on even as peace returns. Whatever the causes, it made me proud that very few those vandals originated from the Indian subcontinent. In fact, they had chosen to defend their new land valiantly.

Kabir Bedi is an internationally renowned Indian actor and columnist. His career has spanned Bollywood, Hollywood, England and Europe. In December 2010, the Italian Government bestowed him a Knighthood, “Cavaliere”, its highest civilian honour. He has been a voting member of the “Oscars Academy” (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) for almost three decades.



My thoughts on "Bollywood song and dance' were penned as a Foreward  to  Sangita Shreshtova's new book, "Is It All About Hips", highlighting how this unique phenomenon has become a foot-stomping international success.

by Kabir Bedi

Bollywood is unique in world cinema. What differentiates their films is the way they integrate singing and dancing into stories whatever their genre: romantic, dramatic, comedy, action, even horror. It’s a convention never questioned by anyone other than some westernised Indian critics who think the sun rises in Hollywood. Song and dance is what’s expected, nay demanded, by hundreds of millions of fans across the world, impatient for Bollywood’s highly entertaining razzmatazz. Its creation of sublime, emotional or foot-stomping escapism is unmatched anywhere in the world.

For decades, Bollywood was known as the “the Hindi film industry”, after the language it spoke. It couldn’t be called Indian cinema, because that would include films in 8 regional languages, with six different scripts, seen by over a billion people. However, all Indian films follow the song and dance format of Bollywood, where it all began in the 1930s with the advent of sound. Somewhere in the early 1990s, the word “Bollywood” replaced “Hindi films” and spread fast. It outraged old-fashioned purists who thought it sounded like a bad rip off of “Hollywood”. Right or wrong, “Bollywood” is now a worldwide brand, growing in popularity by the day. British royalty, taxi drivers in Rome or hair dressers in New York, all want to know more about Bollywood, even if they haven’t seen any of its films. And Bollywood dance routines have been its most successful export ever, with dance classes in Kent, fitness routines in Los Angeles, and ”Jai Ho” being performed at the Oscars. “Is It All About Hips?”, Sangita Shresthova’s new book, highlights this phenomenon brilliantly.

India, the biggest film industry in the world ---1000 films a year or more, with almost 6 songs a film --- creates melodies by thousands every year, generally filmed with stars who dance. That’s a prodigious amount of singing and dancing. As a singer, no one has been more prolific than Bollywood’s Lata Mangeshkar, “the nightingale of India”, who has recorded over 40,000 songs over her 50 year career, a Guinness Record unlikely ever to be surpassed. Indian films are unique in another remarkable way. It’s the only film industry in the world that gives a nation almost all its pop music and its modern dance forms.

Sangita Shreshtova, a classical dancer herself, has been an ardent advocate of Bollywood for years. I first met her when invited me to the Prague Bollywood Festival, which she organised brilliantly in 2007, showing some of my Bollywood films, and, as a special honour, my epic Italian TV series, “Sandokan”. She then moved to California but didn’t lose her focus. This brilliant and entertaining book is product of Sangita Shresthova’s twin passions, Bollywood and Dance. It illuminates the unique phenomenon that defines Bollywood films, its spectacular song and dance routines, while giving us a fascinating insight into its incredible international impact.

It’s ironic that I’ve asked to write this introduction since I’m probably the only Bollywood actor who refused to sing or dance. (Psst: I did try it in a few films, but it wasn’t my scene). But I’m delighted to write this because Sangita has written such a fine book. But, I confess, there’s another naughty reason. I love watching and listening to great Bollywood songs. When theatre lights dim, and Bollywood songs and dance numbers begin, I’m in heaven. Never mind the logic of 15 different locations, with 15 costume changes, all in one song. For me, Bollywood songs and dances rock, and all those who create them are real rock stars. Sangita’s book tells us their story as never before.