Angad Bedi is a very respectful man, it’s evident from the way he speaks about his wife, actress Neha Dhupia and his father, former cricketer Bishan Singh Bedi. It isn’t easy being the son of such a legend and Angad knows that – he may have carved a niche for himself in the movies and the world of modelling but it’s evident from the way he talks that he still cares deeply for his father’s approval. On the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi’s birthday, we share an interview where the Inside Edge star speaks about his childhood, parenting and the time he told his father about Neha Dhupia.
How different was your growing up compared to other kids around you?
Very different – I don’t know about the other kids but I grew up in an extremely disciplined background. I remember my childhood was spent most of the time on the cricket field, my days used to start at around 4:30 in the morning. My father used to train me, we used to train till around 6:30 and then I’d get a break after which I used to go back to the ground for practice sessions. After my training, which used to finish at around 2 o’clock, we’d play a game – a 40-over game or a two-day game. That used to get over at around six, if it was a 40-over game. At 7 o’clock, I’d hit the gym and by 9:30, I used to be in bed.
What were holidays like in the Bedi household as a child?
I never had a holiday . . . not many. I remember that my first trip overseas was in 1990 when my father was the cricket manager of the Indian cricket team and that’s the time I was 7 or 8 and I had travelled to the UK. My father used to be busy playing cricket and he was on tour most of the time. Till the time I hit 30, I don’t think I’ve had a holiday as such. Recently, I went on a holiday to the Maldives which I enjoyed with my wife. It was a well-deserved break and after our child is born into the world, hopefully, we can go for many more.
What was your father’s reaction when you told him about your celluloid dreams?
I think by 17 I’d made up my mind that I don’t want to play cricket and by 19, I was done. Sometimes, you have to give yourself time to rethink matters. He was a bit disheartened because he wanted me to play cricket but he said ‘as long as you work hard and make a name for yourself, there’s nothing more for a father, so just keep working hard’. So, I had his blessings and I still have them and today, whatever I have and the little bit of a name that I’ve made for myself is because of the discipline my father has instilled in me.
Growing up with such a legendary dad, you must have faced crazy expectations as a child. How did you deal with it?
It was pretty normal, I don’t feel that I was any different and if there are no expectations, nothing is expected of you. Challenges thrown at you make you work hard and make you more driven.
Were you an obedient teenager or a rebellious one?
I think I had both streaks. I obey when I think it’s correct but I also question when I feel that I should. There is a very big rebellious streak in me but it comes out only when the situation demands it. If you’re a bit of a rebel, that means you have a very clear mind. I like that attitude, in fact.
Say, hypothetically, you had followed in your father’s footsteps and become a cricketer. Would it have been easier or difficult being Bishan Singh Bedi’s son?
Very difficult. He calls a spade a spade and has lived his life in a very honest, upright manner. I take great pride in the fact that we’ve had a cricketer in the family and if I keep on moving from strength to strength in all my projects, I feel that will also give my father a lot of happiness.
What made you decide to aim for films? Like when did you know that Mumbai and modelling are for you?
My biggest driving force towards cinema has been the legend, Mr Bachchan. I’ve had the good fortune of knowing him and working with him and when I was about 9, I saw his film . . . The first film I ever saw in a theatre was his film and I just fell in love with the man. I really value his existence – he’s put India on the map, it’s known because of Mr Bachchan. He’s been my inspiration.
What’s the one life lesson your father has given you that you still hold till date?
Humility. Have pride but don’t have an ego because ego crushes you. He says that whatever you’ve done and achieved whether it is with Pink or Tiger Zinda Hai and now, Soorma, it’s all behind you. You have to prove yourself again and you have to be very hungry each time you go and sink your teeth into the part. Success has many friends but failure has none. But he always said ‘never be afraid to fail’ because that’s going to teach you – success doesn’t teach you much.
Do you ever quarrel with your dad? How do the two of you resolve them?
I don’t quarrel any more, I always hear him out. Even if I do have my point of view, once we finish a conversation, I know he’s right. You know, as they say, your father will always be right.
When did Mr Bedi come to know about your relationship with Neha? What did he say?
The first thing I went and told him is that I want to marry this girl. He said: ‘if you want to marry her, son, then don’t worry about anything because you have my backing and my blessings. Just make sure you treat her really well’. That was about it. Also, Neha has imbibed a lot of strength from both her parents and that’s what I like about her – her willingness to work hard and to remain relevant. She’s so hard-working and a go-getter and it keeps me on my toes. I think I’m really blessed to have her as a partner, as a friend and as a wife.
What common interests do you both have?
Apart from cricket, there is food. We follow tennis, athletics and we discuss my mom a lot and yeah, dogs! He’s a big fan of dogs.
Now, you’re going to be a father. Any tips from Mr Bedi? What will you do differently or similar in parenting?
I think we’re going to take each day as it comes. I would love to bring my child up the way I have been brought up. I’m very lucky that Neha’s parents and mine share the same values. Our child will have the best set of grandparents. When you come from a place where there have been achievers in the house, it’s a great place to be in because then the child is pushed more towards – not the iPad or Xbox – but the child is pushed towards putting things into practice. Figuring things out on your own so the child develops a personality much faster and the mind becomes a lot clearer. Nowadays I see a lot of bookish knowledge, a lot of knowledge on YouTube and iPad and it’s great that the brain is working so fast but there is also a lot of pleasure in running on the ground. I want my child to have a very sporting background which is very important.
How excited is he for his grandparenthood?
He’s very excited, I’m sure! For every father, it’s very important to see their child settle down whether it is in their profession or family life. My father’s not concerned about my bank balance, he’s concerned if I’m on the right track or whether I’m determined, focused and strong-willed. Stability is very important in a man’s life. For the entire family, this is a big moment.
What is your most fond memory with him?
When I was 6 or 7, he used to take me for a run with our two Dobermans and he used to talk – I was too young to understand what he used to say but I loved hanging out with him. He used to take me for walks in the summer and we had this TATA 207 – it’s like a pick-up truck and when the weather got better, he’d take me and we’d sleep in this pick-up truck. The fact that I got so drawn towards films is because he’s a big Dilip Kumar fan. I started playing cricket at 13, he started coaching me from 13 to 17 (years of age) and then we drifted because I also thought I knew too much. That was my biggest downfall. He’s always been my guru but now we’ve reached a level of being friends and I really value that. Once a father and a son can become friends and maybe have a drink together, maybe the father also gets the fact the son has turned into a fine man. My father doesn’t drink but hopefully, one day we can have a drink together.