The recent announcement of knighthood for the Italian TV series Sandokan’s star Kabir Bedi who will receive the order of merit from the Italian Government on December 9 and who reportedly says ‘you must now call me Cavaliere Kabir Bedi’, made me reflect on the coveted award I also received last year for promotion of wine culture in India and it made me feel even more privileged.
|Editor with Kabir Bedi in Delhi earlier this year
Numerous media reports quoted him, saying, ‘Bedi said he accepts the Knighthood from the Italian Republic with enormous joy and deep gratitude. "It's the perfect symbol of all the love that Italy has showered me with for decades, ever since I played the title role of the Sandokan TV series, continuing till today."
"But this is for a lifetime of work. Awards are valued by every actor, but this Knighthood is extra special for me as it comes from the Italian state," he said.
The 64-year-old actor's association with Italy goes back a long way, beginning in 1976 with the success of his Sandokan TV series, the saga of a freedom fighting Asian pirate during British colonial times who falls in love with an English girl.
“Yes, it is the equivalent of ‘Sir’ in Britain. I could, in the future, be addressed as Cavaliere or Mr Bedi, but I will always remain Kabir,” laughs the actor. This reminds me how I am frequently addressed as Mr. Cav. Subhash Arora.
The recognition does not mean that the Bollywood star who has also acted in Hollywood movies would be acting more frequently or only in Italian films. It does recognise his passion for things Italian and how they have added to the cultural ties between India and Italy. While reflecting, I also knew that I won’t be promoting only Italian wines but my natural passion for things Italian would not be easy to suppress.
As an example, I was at an exclusive cocktail organised by a close friend for a few of the top guns of the visiting French President Sarkozy and his Italian wife Carla Bruni. Looking after the selection and service of wines for the guests, it seemed natural to serve them French wines. Starting with a Saint Emilion Grand Cru, I followed it by a couple of Second Growths from Margaux 1995 and a 1989 which matched well with the delicious mutton kebabs and asparagus stuffed rolls as also the cheeses.
But then, using Carla’s Italian heritage (it might have been politically incorrect to use Madame Gandhi’s country of origin as a crutch-she does not like to be reminded of her Italian past) as an excuse, I took out a Cannonau from Sardinia, followed by two exquisite Chianti Classico Riservas 2001 and 2006, a Brunello di Montalcino 2004 and a Barolo 2004-an excellent vintage for the wine that matched the kebabs rather well. Just to prove my point that wine knows no national boundaries, I finished with a couple of bottles of Tempranillo-based full bodied wines from the most iconic winery in Toro, Spain.
After the first couple of bottles, it had become clear that the French guests were enjoying the wines very much- the change of origin to Italy and Spain was much appreciated, and it turned out to be a wine tasting evening with food of high quality wines from France, Italy and Spain.
I hope and presume that when Cavaliere Bedi celebrates his newly bestowed title, he would be serving easier drinking Italian wines as I did last year, but my guess is that they would be from Veneto, Tuscany or Sicily.
….and if you are invited, please call the man from the Italian TV series Sandokan, Cavaliere Kabir Bedi! Complimenti, il Cavaliere!!
Cav. Subhash Arora