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.”