Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bob Nadkarni of Rio

His name is Bob Nadkarni and he is one rad dude. Have you had a gun put to your head for videotaping corrupt cops? Have you taken your neighborhood back from ruthless drug dealers and lawless kids w/submachine guns? Didn't think so. This man has. Bob Nadkarni told FUTURE his story by phone conference last Sunday. (Check out part of that transcribed conversation later in this post.) Bob spent his early years going to fine arts school and working for Stanley Kubrick on '2001 Space Odyssey', later going abroad as a foreign correspondent for NBC and the BBC. During his many adventures he discovered and relocated to a favela in Rio. After battling local drug dealers and crooked cops for years, Bob liberated his favela (brazialian shanty town...have you seen 'City of Men'?) from the clutches of warring drug runners and made his neighborhood a safer, better place to live. Now running a beautiful hotel and art studio, Bob says the surrounding hills in the favela are following his lead, "They know that it is possible because we showed it can be done." We told you Bob was an amazing guy. Read a little of FUTURE's interview with Bob below...

FTR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

BN: I'm English. My father was Indian but I was a blond, blue eyed boy. I majored in Fine Arts for a little bit and then left to work on Stanley Kubrick's '2001 Space Odyssey'. I married a girl from art school who became famous and we spent the next several years not seeing each other.

FTR: How did you end up in Brazil?

BN: After my 1st marriage I got on a ship which accidently stopped in Brazil. This was when i first fell in love with Brazil but I was kicked out by the military. I knew the only way to get back in was as an international journalist so I went back in 1974 as a war correspondent for NBC television...which is when I first discovered the favela. I left for a while but returned after leaving Beirut in '82.

FTR: One of the incredible parts of this story is your battle with the local drug dealers and crooked cops to make the favela a safe place to live. What went down with all this?

BN: The drug dealers were in control when I moved in to make a home for myself. I was determined to get rid of the drug element which I believe destroy the best parts of our world. It wasn't just the drug dealers and the kids w/ submachine guns, the cops were crooked too. I had to film them in the act and threaten to send it to the BBC. I played the BBC journalist angle strongly to my advantage. There were times when they had a gun to my head and I said go ahead shoot me but your life will be over I'm a BBC journalist. Being connected to the British government was a massive card I had to play and these guys were cowards..I was never hurt. After time I convinced the local Rio S.W.A.T. to set up shop in the area and eventually we pushed the drug element out of the area entirely. The area is much better now, businesses can move in, there is a ballet studio that just opened up and the chief of police has tea at my hotel once a week. We have really made this a better place where people can live in safety and begin to prosper.

FTR: Its incredible what you have done and very cool Bob. Now you have an awesome hotel where people can come stay in the favela. Sounds like a lot of fun. Do you miss England?

BN: I always said I was born in the wrong country. I miss the Indian food in England but now I can make my own Indian food so I'm fine. My wife is here and my children. We just had Jazz night which was a lot of fun. I'm working on my paintings and life is really good.

Check out Bob's website here. You can see photos of his place and make reservations to stay with him and his crew in Rio. The name of the hotel is The Maze. It looks like an amazing place to hang out. Let's go down and stay forever.

CLICK HERE for The Maze website.