Sorab Irani

Mandate - - Writer -

Sorab Irani, film­maker, pro­ducer and Man­ag­ing Direc­tor or SBI Im­pre­sario Pvt. Ltd. is a close friend of Far­rukh Dhondy. He had orig­i­nally ex­pressed the de­sire to adapt Charles Sobhraj’s true story ( The Af­ter­math) into a movie and be­gan work­ing closely with him for the same. Though the project fell through, he re­counts the dif­fi­cul­ties he had faced in gath­er­ing funds for such a con­tro­ver­sial project and hopes that Bol­ly­wood has come of age, a decade later.

“Far­rukh Dhondy be­ing a good friend, I was privy to the in­for­ma­tion that Charles Sobhraj had ap­proached him for a lit­er­ary agent in Lon­don to pub­lish his book called The Af­ter­math (a book that never got pub­lished) which Charles claimed was his real life story. As a pro­ducer I was on the look­out for a strong sub­ject for my next film and it oc­curred to me that this was per­fect. It had all the in­gre­di­ents nec­es­sary—Charles, a no­to­ri­ous se­rial killer with a mag­netic sex ap­peal, known for his abil­ity to stay one step ahead of the law, es­capes from pri­son, and was alive and free-living in Paris.

“My first meet­ing with Charles was in the of­fice of Curtis and Brown, one of the most pres­ti­gious lit­er­ary agents in the busi­ness with Charles present along with a bat­tery of English lawyers ne­go­ti­at­ing a con­tract for film rights of The Af­ter­math. Charles was keen to get a film made on him­self. Let me as­sure you it was en­tirely for mon­e­tary gains, he was fa­mous any­way; he just wanted to now cash in.

“So, I ap­proached Man­mo­han Shetty with this film pro­posal to pro­duce an in­ter­na­tional film writ­ten by Far­rukh. He was ex­cited by the prospects of such a project and agreed on fund­ing devel­op­ment and 50 per cent eq­uity par­tic­i­pa­tion. Thus, my long as­so­ci­a­tion with the se­rial killer be­gan. I say long be­cause even now he sud­denly calls me from the pri­son in Nepal where he is serv­ing a life sen­tence for mur­der.

“So, Far­rukh worked closely with Charles on a screen­play com­mis­sioned by my com­pany (SBI Im­pre­sario Pvt. Ltd.) and I started on putting to­gether the bal­ance fund­ing. In the west, mak­ing films on killers and crim­i­nals was per­ceived as glo­ri­fy­ing them and al­low­ing them to profit from their in­fa­mous sta­tus. This was one main rea­son that the project did not take off. How­ever, I then turned to In­dian mar­ket and I re­alised that the best way to raise funds for a com­mer­cial big bud­get film is to get a star on board. I ap­proached Aamir Khan, he was in­ter­ested. I set up a meet­ing with Aamir and Charles in Lon­don. They met but Aamir did not give the green as he wanted to do screen tests for the role which at that point did not work out. Then Jackie Shroff was keen to play the role and was also in­vited to meet Charles in Lon­don, but some­how the fund­ing did not come through and the project is yet not made. This hap­pened over a span of two years.

“Pro­duc­ers take all kinds of risks to make films but are rarely will­ing to risk their lives. In the early days, my fam­ily was pet­ri­fied each time I went off to Lon­don or Paris to meet Charles, but the more time I spent with him I knew he would not harm me. He told me a lot about him­self which I think very few peo­ple in the world re­ally know. Far­rukh dur­ing the ex­er­cise of writ­ing the screen­play—which is still my com­pany’s prop­erty—is no doubt the only living de­posi­tary of real facts about Charles as they kept in touch even af­ter my project fell through.

“Will a film ever get made that Charles will en­dorse and can he re­ally do so with­out in­crim­i­nat­ing him­self? So much in­for­ma­tion is out there in the public domain, some of it noth­ing but sen­sa­tional non­sense, the rest, if I know Charles, is what he has cho­sen to feed the hun­gry me­dia and had the last laugh.”

Jackie Shroff at the look test Far­rukh Dhondy, Charles Sobhraj & Sorab Irani

Aamir Khan

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