Kathmandu, Upcoming Bollywood star Neil Nitin Mukesh’s plan to make a new film on crime maestro Charles Sobhraj and have the protagonist copy Sobhraj’s `mannerisms’ has been shot down by Nepal’s prison authorities, who said he would never be allowed to meet Sobhraj in prison.
“Nepal’s home ministry has laid down regulations that a prisoner can be visited only by his relatives, lawyers and human rights organisations, like the Red Cross, National Human Rights Commission and Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,” said Yam Kumari Khatiwada, chief of Nepal’s prison management department that runs the jails in the Himalayan republic.
Since his arrival in Kathmandu in 2003, Sobhraj has been spending his days in Kathmandu’s Central Prison under maximum security after two courts found him guilty of the murder of an American tourist nearly three decades ago and handed him down a 20-year life term.
Reports in the Indian media last week said Mukesh was planning to fly down to Kathmandu and meet Sobhraj in order to give authenticity to the character in his proposed film. Tentatively called `Charles’, it would be made under the banner of Percept Picture Company Ltd.
“We are in the process of contacting authorities in Nepal and India for the necessary permissions to meet Sobhraj,” Mukesh was quoted as saying, adding, “The meeting looks probable because the Nepalese court has allowed vistors to meet Sobhraj in the past.”
“This is the first time that I have heard of such a thing,” Khatiwada told IANS in an exclusive interview.
“No one is allowed to take photographs or make recordings inside our prisons. Even meetings are ruled out when the visitors have such intentions (as making films). Only a few select rights organisations are allowed to hold vetted programme inside the prisons.”
The official said she would alert the prisoner of the Central Jail, Shankar Prasad Arryal, about Mukesh’s intention and instruct him not to allow such a visit.
In the past, when Sobhraj was pursued by the media following his revelation that he was going to marry a teenager one-third his age, the prison authorities had clamped down on visitors for Sobhraj.
Several times, he was kept in isolation, not allowed to meet anyone except his lawyers.
Khatiwada also said she was amazed by the Indian actor’s announcing plans of meeting Sobhraj before the media without having taken any actual steps and without contacting the appropriate authorities in Nepal.
In addition to ruffling officials, Mukesh seems to have also left out something very important from his calculations.
The man he wants to meet himself may not be willing to grant an audience.
Sobhraj’s lawyers have been fighting earlier bids by Bollywood to make films based on his life. They threatened to sue director Prawaal Raman, who too had announced a Sobhraj film, “Charles and I”, with Sanjay Dutt in the lead.
After that, Raman was reported as saying that his film was pure fiction and had nothing to do with Sobhraj.
“How can they make a film on a person who is alive without his permission?” Sobhraj had told IANS three years ago when Raman announced his new project. “I am going to sue them if they try to do so without my permission.”