Kabir Bedi: Parveen Babi was a beautiful and ambitious girl from the royal family of Junagadh that had fallen on bad times – Exclusive! – Times of India

In conversation with Kabir Bedi at the recent Times LitFest in Mumbai, author Meghna Pant asked him about his experiences with mental health. She cited episodes from his book, ‘Stories I Must Tell’ and asked about his time with two people suffering from mental health issues, people Bedi knew closely, including actress Parveen Babi. Speaking about his personal experiences Bedi revealed, “People with mental health problems, firstly, are people, not objects; their perception might have changed but they are living, breathing people. Unlike physical problems, there’s a stigma, secrecy, and shame to it. Families don’t want to talk about it because of all the dangers involved. And this is tragic because mental health issues can be addressed in the same way physical health issues are addressed.”

He also pointed out the fact that modern medicine has changed the way mental health can be treated. He said, “Unlike in the late ’90s, during my son Siddharth‘s great crisis, today, medicines are much better. Mental health problems can be treated or managed much better than they could be 20 years ago. So, it’s not a story without hope; it’s not a dead end.”

Bedi also explained that people must realise when someone is suffering from a mental health problem, the caregiver must also be shown sympathy as he/she suffers as much as the afflicted person. He added, “The caregiver suffers the most because they want the best for the other person. Two things are important–for the caregiver to never give up, always keep giving love, because there is a soul there that’s receiving that. For the afflicted, the biggest problem is convincing them that they have a condition. They don’t want to admit they have schizophrenia, depression, or any other mental health issue.”

With a lump in his throat, he spoke softly and affectionately about Parveen Babi. He said, “Parveen was a beautiful, sensitive, ambitious girl, who had come from the royal family of Junagadh that had fallen on bad times. She made her way to Bombay, became a film star and the object of fantasy of millions. That’s not an easy achievement. She was determined and talented. My relationship with her overlapped with my greatest professional success in Europe, with ‘Sandokan’. So, there was a strange jugalbandi (entwinement) between extraordinary euphoria and this cloud of emotional problems that we were facing at the same time, with the person that you love most in the world, who you want to help, but who doesn’t want to be helped.”

Finally, he concluded, “All I’m saying is to take away the stigma from the afflicted and give the caregivers the support and sympathy they deserve.”

For more insights, stories and anecdotes from Kabir Bedi’s Times LitFest session with author Meghna Pant tune into the live stream at 5 pm, today.

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Times LitFest


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