Protima Bedi


Protima Gauri Bedi[2][3] (12 October 1948 – 18 August 1998)[4] was an Indian model turned Odissi exponent. In 1990, she established Nrityagram, a dance school in a village near Bangalore.

Protima Bedi
Protima Bedi.gif
Protima Gupta[1]

(1948-10-12)12 October 1948
Delhi, India
Died18 August 1998(1998-08-18) (aged 49)
Malpa, Pithoragarh, India
(m. 1969; div. 1974)
Children2, including Pooja Bedi

Early lifeEdit

Protima was born in Delhi,[5] the second of four siblings, three daughters and a son. Her father was Laxmichand Gupta, a trader belonging to a business family from Karnal district, Haryana, and her mother Reba, a Bengali.[1]

In 1953, her family moved to Goa, and in 1957, to Bombay. At age nine, she was sent to stay at her aunt's, in a village in the Karnal district for a while, where she studied in a local school. On her return, she was sent to Kimmins High School, Panchgani, where she received her early education. She graduated from St. Xavier's College, Bombay (1965–67).[5]


Modeling careerEdit

By the late 1960s, she was a prominent model. In 1974, she came into the news for streaking during the daytime for the launch of the Bollywood magazine Cineblitz at Juhu Beach in Bombay.[6]

Dance careerEdit

You have only to ready yourself, to allow things to happen as they should. The greatest favour you can do yourself is to 'get out of your own way'.
- Protima Bedi, Timepass: Memoirs of Protima Bedi[5]

In August 1975, at the age of 26, an Odissi dance recital [7] completely changed her life when she ran into the Bhulabhai Memorial Institute by chance, and saw two young dancers giving an Odissi performance. She became a student of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, from whom she learnt the art of dancing for 12 to 14 hours a day and faced a lot of hardship as a beginner.[8]

To perfect her dance, she started studying abhinaya from Guru Kalanidhi Narayanan of Madras. From then on, she started giving performances around the country. Around the same time, Protima started her own dance school at Prithvi Theatre in Juhu, Mumbai. It later became the Odissi Dance Centre.


A temple dedicated to Kelucharan Mohapatra at Nrityagram Dance Community, near Bangalore, established by Protima Bedi.

Nrityagram, situated on the outskirts of Bangalore, became India's first free dance gurukul,[9] village for various Indian classical dances, consisting of seven gurukuls for the seven classical dance styles and two martial arts forms, Chhau and Kalaripayattu.[10] She wanted to revive the guru-shishya parampara. Nrityagram was inaugurated on 11 May 1990, by the then-Prime Minister, V.P. Singh. The dance school has a small community of students from all parts of India, but with a common aim of dance. The Nrityagram ensemble was soon performing all over the world.[11] Meanwhile, in 1992, Protima appeared in Pamela Rooks's English film, Miss Beatty's Children.[12]

Nrityagram, created as a model dance village, was constructed by architect Gerard da Cunha. It won the Best Rural Architecture award in 1991. To raise funds to run Nrityagram, a tourist resort Kuteeram was built in 1992. Nrityagram is also the venue of the annual dance festival Vasanta Habba, which was first started in 1994 and had 40,000 visitors when it was last held in 2004. It was not held from 2005–2007, due to the advent of the 2004 tsunami and a shortage of funds.[13]

Final yearsEdit

Protima's son Siddarth, who was suffering from schizophrenia, committed suicide in July 1997, while he was studying in North Carolina.[14] This changed the course of her life irrevocably, as in early 1998, she announced her retirement and changed her name to Protima Gauri.[1] Soon she started travelling in the Himalayan region, starting with Leh.[15] In a newspaper interview given in April 1998, camping at Rishikesh during the Kumbh Mela, she said, "I have decided to give myself up to the Himalayas. It is the call of the mountains which has beckoned me to them. And who knows what may come out of it? It is bound to be something good," [16] Subsequently, in August, Protima Gauri set off on her pilgrimage to Kailash Mansarovar, and it was there that she disappeared after the Malpa landslide, near Pithoragarh,[17] in the Himalayas. Her remains and belongings were recovered after several days, along with seven other bodies found in the landslide in Malpa, a village near the India-Nepal border.[citation needed]

In her autobiography, Timepass, based on her journals and letters collated and published by her daughter, Pooja Bedi, in 2000, she gives an account of her relationships and lifestyle, the birth of her dream project, Nrityagram, and her eventual transition into a sanyasin towards the end of her life, when she retired from public life and wanted to explore the Himalayas.[18]

Personal lifeEdit

Protima Bedi, during her modelling days, met Kabir Bedi. After a few months, she walked out of her parents' house to live with him. It was another indication of her expression of individuality, which continued throughout her life. She married Kabir and had two children - Pooja Bedi and Siddharth Bedi.[citation needed] They separated in 1974.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c This Above All - She had a lust for life The Tribune, 5 February 2000.
  2. ^ Obituary Archived 2 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine India Today, 7 September 1998.
  3. ^ Protima Gauri Bedi
  4. ^ Dream Nrityagram.
  5. ^ a b c Time Pass: The Memoirs of Protima Bedi, Introduction, pp. 1–2. Biographical info: "Early Years"
  6. ^ Protima's interview on naked run Archived 2006-03-06 at the Wayback Machine Hindustan Times.
  7. ^ Protima Guari Interview, 22 August 1998.
  8. ^ Bina Ramani Mourns... Indian Express, 22 September 1998.
  9. ^ Nityagram profile Archived 16 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Odissi Kala Kendra Contemporaries in Odissi.
  11. ^ Dance in Review New York Times, 22 June 1996.
  12. ^ Protima Bedi at IMDb
  13. ^ "Waiting for spring". The Hindu. 5 March 2007. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012.
  14. ^ Interview Kabir Bedi Archived 2009-06-26 at the Wayback Machine Filmfare October, 2001.
  15. ^ Bowing Out Archived 7 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine India Today, 27 April 1998.
  16. ^ Dutt, Nirupama (20 August 1998). "Will a pilgrim's tale remain untold?". Indian Express.
  17. ^ Obituary New York Times, 30 August 1998.
  18. ^ To Family and friends Archived 2008-10-22 at the Wayback Machine Hindustan Times.


  • Time Pass: The Memoirs of Protima Bedi, with Pooja Bedi Ebrahim. New Delhi, Penguin, 2000. ISBN 0-14-028880-5.

External linksEdit

  • Protima Bedi at IMDb
  • An Interview with Protima Gauri
  • Special feature on Protima Bedi