Jeffrey Archer: Bollywood 'a bunch of thieves' stealing his storys

The former MP and convicted perjurer accuses Indian films of plagiarising his novels, which have sold tens of millions in the country

Jeffrey Archer, the novelist and former British MP, has accused Bollywood directors of stealing his storylines.

In an interview with Indian news site DNA, Archer was asked whether his novels would make good Hollywood film adaptations. “Forget Hollywood, just look at your Bollywood!” he replied. “These bunch of thieves have stolen several of my books without so much as a by your leave.”

He cites the films Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl and Khudgarz as plagiarising his novels Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less and Kane and Abel – something that the Times of India also recently acknowledged. Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, like Archer’s novel, is about a conman battling revenge from three of the people he’s tricked, though the film cast the trio as women. Kane and Abel meanwhile, itself loosely based on the Bible story, became Khudgarz, a tale of feuding brothers.

Archer is popular in India, and claims to have sold 50m novels there. In the interview he says he is planning to set a portion of a forthcoming novel in Mumbai (or Bombay as he still calls it), with a female Bollywood actor as a central character.

After seeing the aforementioned loose adaptations of his books, he’s now officially selling the film rights, with novel First Among Equals and short story A La Carte sold to producer Sheetal Talwar in 2013, and director Hansel Mehta intending to buy the official rights to Kane and Abel following his own TV adaptation in 1999.

Archer is currently shopping around his book Only Time Will Tell to Hollywood and Bollywood, but said he has had his fingers burned with Indian producers in the past, citing a “second-rate Bollywood idiot who goes around saying he’s a Bollywood star producer and then he is not! It’s true! What can I say? Such has been my Indian experience many times.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Archer says he once had Damian Lewis in mind for an on-screen version of one of his characters, “but the thing is, he has since grown very old.” He cites he favourite writers as John Steinbeck, John Buchan and RK Narayan, and offers his opinion on Isis: “I think the world should help arm the Kurds. It would be a disaster if Isis took over all of the region I call Kurdistan. The British government must ensure that never happens.” But he rules out a return to politics: “I [know that] 74. 270 million people have read my books and it’s the biggest and most central thing of my life. I can’t now make that secondary and start chasing other things.”


Ben Beaumont-Thomas

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Jeffrey Archer

The first scene at the railway station in Brief Encounter, with Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard is a moving love scene with no explicit sex, played with such conviction.

06, Feb, 2000 @6:37 PM

Jeffrey Archer

"If you are lucky enough to have that gift - to tell a story, to tell a tale - that's just luck. You can't go down to Marks and Spencer and say 'I'll have a packet of stories please'."

22, Jul, 2008 @2:40 PM

Theatre: Defending Jeffrey . . . ?

Defending Jeffrey . . . ?
West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Alfred Hickling

05, Apr, 2001 @11:00 PM

McCrum on Jeffrey Archer
Review: The Eleventh Commandment

Robert McCrum

17, May, 1998 @3:54 PM

Article image
Bollywood star Sunny Leone apologises after man swamped with phone calls
Leone’s character gives out phone number in the recent Hindi comedy Arjun Patiala – but the number actually belongs to a man in Delhi

Guardian film

02, Aug, 2019 @1:07 PM

Article image
Sex, drugs, politics: how the streaming giants are blowing up Bollywood
New Amazon and Netflix dramas take in themes that India’s established cinema rarely touches, with millions of potential subscribers available

Steve Rose

02, Aug, 2019 @1:00 PM

Article image
The Bollywood conundrum
India's latest blockbuster, 3 Idiots, has broken box-office records around the world – but it won't even make a dent in the British mainstream. Former Bollywood fan Nirpal Dhaliwal has a fair idea why

Nirpal Dhaliwal

07, Jan, 2010 @9:40 PM

Article image
John Crace's digested read: False Impression by Jeffrey Archer

Few suspected that behind Fenton's facade as a respected banker lay one of Ceausescu's most loyal cronies who had amassed a fabulous horde of impressionist art by getting rich collectors to borrow money at ridiculous rates of interest and then killing them.

John Crace

06, Mar, 2006 @9:49 AM

My other life: Jeffrey Archer

Writers reveal their fantasy career

15, Mar, 2009 @12:01 AM

Observer review: The Nose by Elena Lappin

Elena Lappin traps a story of dreadful secrets inside one of a perky young journalist in The Nose.

Adam Mars-Jones

05, Aug, 2001 @1:56 PM