His own naggingly familiar plots have prompted claims of plagiarism. Now Jeffrey Archer has called Bollywood directors “a bunch of thieves” who steal his storylines.
The bestselling author, who was jailed for four years on perjury charges, was asked in an interview with Indian news site DNA, 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.”
Archer cited a 2011 Bollywood romcom Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, starring actor Ranveer Singh, which he said was directly inspired by his 1976 book Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less.
Archer’s story follows four men who plot to sting the conman who stole their money. Singh starred as a conman targeting women who gets a taste of his own medicine from some of his victims.
The peer, who has sold 270m books, also pointed to the 1987 film Khudgarz, which he believes is a rip-off of one of his 1979 best-seller Kane and Abel.
Kane and Abel is the story of two men born on the same day on opposite sides of the world, whose paths are destined to cross in the ruthless struggle to build a fortune.
Khudgarz starred veteran actors Jeetendra and Shatrughan Sinha as two men born on the same day who share a karmic destiny.
The former Conservative party deputy chairman, found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice in 2001, criticised Maneesh Sharma, director of Ladies vs Ricky Bahl, in a blog.
“It seems he just stole my book and has not paid me one penny in compensation,” he wrote. “Bollywood needs to join the real world - too often authors’ works are stolen and the title and story changed so little that the critics pick it up immediately.”
Archer is popular in India, and claims to have sold 50m novels there. The plagiarism charge has not prevented the author from offering his 2011 novel Only Time Will Tell, which he launched in Bangalore, to Bollywood. Deals have been struck to adapt his novel First Among Equals as well as Kane and Abel.
But Archer said he was wary of his encounters with 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.”
India will play a lead role in the Clifton Chronicles, Archer’s latest wartime saga. “All writers should write about milieus they know and understand, or the writing will suffer. In the next book in the Clifton Chronicles series, eight chapters will be set in Bombay around a Bollywood heroine.”
However plagiarism is a sensitive subject for Archer, 74, whose CV has often appeared to merge fact with fiction.
Author Kathleen Burnett, who won a short story competition he judged in 1983, later complained that aspects of her plot appeared in a later book of Archer’s called Just Good Friends. She was told by his publishers that “there is no copyright in an idea”.
Critics noted a remarkable similarity between The Accused, the play in which Archer plays an actor accused of murder in one of his own plays, to the 1957 courtroom film Witness for the Prosecution, based on a short story, and later play, by Agatha Christie.
Archer vs Bollywood
Kane and Abel
The son of a Boston millionaire and a penniless Polish immigrant - born on the same day on opposite sides of the world - become power players, developing an all-consuming hatred destined to destroy each other.
A tale of feuding brothers – Mother Sita has brought up Bihari and his friend, Amar as her own. Bihari blames Amar for his humiliation in love and vows to bring about Bihari’s downfall at all costs.
True inspiration: Cain and Abel, the Book of Genesis, two sons of Adam and Eve, star in the original story of sibling vengeance.
Not A Penny More, Not A Penny Less
A tale of fraud, revenge and determination as four men stop at nothing to get back what was stolen from them by Harvey Metcalfe, lifelong king of shady deals.
Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl
Ricky Bahl, a charismatic conman, tricks three women who join forces to take their revenge by pitting a “con-girl” against the swindler.
True inspiration: Archer’s story was based on his own near-bankruptcy experience. “Ricky Bahl” adds romantic swindle element from 2006 movie John Tucker Must Die.Reuse content