India’s hot property, cricketer Virat Kohli has several fans, one of whom is Jeffrey Archer. The English author says the 27-year-old Indian test team captain is a treat to watch on field, and that he enjoys team India’s game.
“Of course, all of them play so well, but I’m a great admirer of Kohli,” says Archer, who’s equally admired by our star cricketers as they’ve been avid readers of his books.
“Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid – all have been readers of my books for many years. But I don’t know the new team personally or if they read my books,” adds the author, who has been to India a few times, and is planning another trip soon.
“I’ve visited India about 6-7 times but never been able to see the Taj Mahal.” And why so? “Because when you get there, you have to be prepared for (just about) anything. You are such an exciting, interesting race,” jokes Archer, adding: “(Actually) it was shortage of time. I wish I had more time on my last trip to India, to do some exploring. If given a chance this time, I’d love to see the Taj Mahal.”
A film buff, the 76-year-old admits he enjoys watching Bollywood movies, but seems reluctant to talk about the subject. Prod him more, and he shares: “An Indian movie company stole my work and made a film on it without my permission.” The movie was reportedly Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011).
As for his recently-released book, This Was A Man, last in the popular Clifton Series, Archer expects a good response in India. “I hope to see large crowds like last time,” says the author, whose popularity in writing grew inversely to his declining political career.
Before turning author, Archer was a Member of Parliament and his name was embroiled in quite a few scandals. His political career ended with his conviction and subsequent imprisonment whereas his books have sold around 330 million copies worldwide.
Ask him if he ever thought that writing would get him such success, and he says: “I have been genuinely shocked by the response that my writing has received. No one could have anticipated its success. I got lucky in the sense that I found a second career that I might not have discovered if I would have remained in politics.”
As for his changed style of writing over the years, Archer believes time and practice make one a better craftsman. “You do become more professional, as you move on. The story telling doesn’t change. Many of my fans still think Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less is the best book I have ever written. The storytelling is consistent. But what definitely happens after 30 years, you become a better craftsman.”
And who would this craftsman like to present a copy of his new book? “It would have been President Mandela. I already had the privilege and honour of meeting Mother Teresa who’s no longer with us. And I wanted to meet RK Narayan. I always say to young writers, write about what you experience and the things that you know about, and people can immediately realise that you do know about them. RK Narayan is a classic example of this. His tales are beautifully simple, wonderfully written and that’s why he was a great writer,” says Archer.