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Charles & I not based on Sobhraj's life

Sanjay Dutt
Herman Knippenberg, the Dutch diplomat who investigated Charles Sobhraj's case, has been roped in as consultant for the Sanjay Dutt bio-pic apparently based on Sobhraj's life.

However, no one involved with the Sanjay Dutt's project Charles & I is talking about Sobhraj any more. According to people close to the project, Sanjay Dutt who plays the lead has been told not to speak about the character any more.

Says a source, "From the moment the director Prawaal Raman narrated the script to Sanjay he has been charged. The actor has taken charge of the project, so much so that when the original producers pulled out, Dutt personally took on the responsibility for getting immediate replacement. However, the excitable actor has been asked not to mention Sobhraj anywhere."

It looks like Faroukh Dhondy's novel The Bikini Murders is not the only supposedly-biographical target that the controversial convict Charles Sobhraj has chosen for legal recourse.

Former Ram Gopal Varma associate, Prawaal Raman, who is making a film based on the life and crimes of Sobhraj with Sanjay Dutt in the lead has had to do some quick rethinking after he received legal summons from Sobhraj's lawyers.

Confirming these developments Prawaal Raman says, "Yes, Charles Sobhraj has sued us. My lawyers have looked into it. In fact Sanjay Dutt and I were dismayed by reports linking my film about an international criminal to Sobhraj. Let me clarify that my film titled Charles & I is not based on the life of Sobhraj."

So why the title Charles & I? "That's because my protagonist is named Charles and his story is told from the perspective of a retired cop who pursued the criminal all across the world."

The fact that Herman Knippenberg is an inspiration for the cop's character is, of course, just a happy coincidence. Right? Going by what happened to enterprising filmmakers from Shekhar Kapoor (Bandit Queen) to Jagmohan Mundra (Bawandar) and Deepa Mehta (Heaven On Earth) who have been made financially and creatively accountable by sources for the bio-pics.

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