Bollywood filmmaker rebuffs Sobhraj contract offer as extortion

Kathmandu, July 29 (IANS) As he fervently dreams from behind bars of a new life with a new love, yesteryear’s ‘bikini killer’ Charles Sobhraj has received a new blow with a Bollywood film company rejecting his call for a contract and, instead, accusing him of extortion.

People Pictures, based in India’s film city Mumbai, that is producing a new film, “Charles and I”, buzzed to be based on the life and crimes of the 64-year Sobhraj — who was suspected of being involved in the murder of over a dozen western tourists but never proved guilty — has unceremoniously rejected the French national’s call to enter into a partnership with him, saying the film has no connection with him.

Sobhraj, who is serving a life term in Kathmandu’s most tightly guarded prison for the murder of an American tourist in 1975, had instructed his tough French lawyer in Paris Isabelle Coutant-Peyre to threaten the Indian film company with a legal notice.

A month ago, the French woman sent a letter to People Pictures, pointing out that according to media reports, the film would be based on Charles Sobhraj’s life. Unless the company signed a contract with Sobhraj, who would have a say in the script, the lawyer said it would be served a legal notice for libel.

However, in his autumn years, the once notorious French crime maestro is now finding that he has lost his teeth. People Pictures has refused to be cowed by the threat. Instead, it has sent a firm refusal to Coutant-Peyre, saying “Charles and I” has no connection to Sobhraj and the company is regarding the libel warning as an extortion bid.

An enraged Sobhraj is now trying to contact Bollywood super star Sanjay Dutt, who has been chosen to play Charles in the controversial film. “I know some people who know him,” Sobhraj told IANS from his cell in Kathmandu’s Central Jail. “Once we contact him, he will be ready to get in touch with me.”

Sobhraj has also instructed his army of helpers to dig up all the reports that have appeared in the Indian media about the film and its supposed links to him, including reports on Indian television channels. The new blow comes at a time when Nepal’s media has refused to toe his line.

Nepali daily, the Himalayan Times, whose report on Sobhraj’s appearance in Nepal five years ago led to his arrest, was threatened with a libel suit as well for saying Sobhraj would be jailed further for bigamy if he married his new Nepali fiancée, 20-year-old Nihita Biswas.

However, it remained an empty threat with Sobhraj’s lawyers advising him against getting into yet another lawsuit. Sobhraj’s final appeal against the 20-year jail term is coming up for hearing in Nepal’s Supreme Court next week and his lawyers are asking him to focus on that.

They have also advised him against jumping into a court marriage with Nihita till he is acquitted or gets a final verdict.

— By Sudeshna Sarkar


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