Every book of his has been on bestseller lists in the last 30 years and he has been one of the most read contemporary English authors in India, but when it came to adapting his latest novel Paths of Glory into a film, Jeffrey Archer says he is surprised to have not found any takers in India.
"I was here not only to read excerpts from my book but meet directors or producers. Nobody has phoned. Not one...actually that's inaccurate... One phoned Lijin (his assistant in India) and he had never directed a film in his life and one phoned me and said, 'I think we could do this for quarter of a million'...God, got rid of him pretty quickly," Archer told IANS during an interview here.
"I haven't approached anyone ... and no one's approached me. Nobody. I wouldn't know who to approach, to be honest. I don't know that world (Bollywood). Nobody's talked to me...what is their problem? Why aren't they getting in touch with me?" he added in disappointment.
Archer was here as a part of the five-city 'Landmark Jeffrey Archer Tour' May 11-19 to promote Paths of Glory and scout for an "ideal director or producer who could very convincingly and skilfully transform" his novel into a movie.
The novel is based on the real-life story of George Mallory, who some say was the first person to climb Mount Everest, the world's highest peak, even before Tenzing Norgay and Sir Edmund Hillary.
Ignored by Indian filmmakers so far, the 69-year-old king of racy fiction said he does have some leads in Hollywood.
"I've written the screenplay for 'Paths of Glory' and Bruce Beresford, whose film 'Driving Miss Daisy' (1989) won an Oscar, wants to make the film. I'd like to find a producer, I'd like to find the money...but I'm not having a lot of luck so far. I'd love to make it," he said, chewing the ear hooks of his prim glasses in thought.
"We are also talking to a major (in Hollywood) and in theory they are bidding for it at the moment," added the writer, who has rehabilitated himself in British high society after a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.
Archer, who had been a Conservative MP before he was jailed, revealed to IANS his plans of a Hollywood-Bollywood "collaboration" for a film based on "Paths of Glory".
"It's a natural Hollywood-Bollywood film...a collaboration would be ideal...all natural Hollywood razzmatazz and you get to go to India. It'd be better to go to Everest than another mountain," explained the man who has also penned novels like "Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less", "Kane and Abel" and "The Prodigal Daughter".
So will the movie be bilingual?
"No. Not interested. It is an English film. It is an Englishman we are talking about. We can't have a Hindi-speaking George Mallory climbing the mountain...when I say of a combination, I mean you've got here some of the finest equipment and some of the finest technicians in the world. If I'm going to India and then going to Everest, wouldn't it be wise to use the technical skills of Bollywood and the Indian people?" he asked.
Did he follow Bollywood? Archer replied with a prompt "no". He later acknowledged he had heard of "Shah Rukh Khan", but admitted complete ignorance about Amitabh Bachchan.
What are his other plans? Archer has on his plate a revised version of "Kane and Abel", a collection of short stories called And Thereby hangs a Tale and an untitled novel.
(Robin Bansal can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org )