5 times Charles Sobhraj’s life resembled a crime thriller

Born to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj’s childhood was spent in Saigon, Vietnam, but his criminal instincts never put him at peace.

bollywood Updated: Nov 24, 2015 10:19 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Charles Sobhraj,Thriller,Main Aur Charles
A file photograph of Charles Sobhraj from 1995.(HT Photo by Dinesh Krishnan)

Hatchand Bhaonani Gurumukh aka Charles Sobhraj has carved a special place for himself in the world of criminals. As a true international criminal, Sobhraj operated at such speed that the authorities could not think of a way to capture him as he fled from one country to the other.

Born to an Indian father and a Vietnamese mother, Sobhraj’s childhood was spent in Saigon, Vietnam, but his criminal instincts never put him at peace. After battling trauma, he finally moved to France where he became a hardened criminal.

Now, when director Prawaal Raman’s film Main Aur Charles is ready to hit the screens, we take a look at Charles Sobhraj’s life. Here are five incidents from his life that look straight out of a thriller.

Randeep Hooda in Main Aur Charles. (YouTube)

Tihar Jail Break
Charles ‘The Serpent’ Sobhraj is known as the king of deception. He struck when his victims were at their vulnerable most. One such incident took place in 1986 when he was serving a sentence in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. Just when everybody thought Sobhraj had changed, he announced that it was his birthday. He ordered sweets for everybody and mixed them with drugs that were already smuggled inside. He walked out of the jail without any resistance. However, he was arrested later.

An Earlier Jail Escape
By 1971, Sobhraj had started making headlines for his crimes. A team of Delhi Police joined hands with their counterparts in Mumbai to nab the master criminal, and they became successful, but this was just one part of the story. The other part of the story is about Sobhraj’s audacious escape from a prison in Delhi. This time he feigned a great pain in appendicitis and got admitted in a hospital. Those were the days of Bangladesh freedom war and blackouts were quite frequent. During one such blackout, he left his bed in hospital and walked back on the dark streets in search of more victims.

Charles Sobhraj being produced in Tis Hazari court on 26 April 1995. (HT Photo by Dinesh Krishnan)

1975 Mumbai Hotel Escape
He was one of the most wanted men in India and his reputation as an escape artist was getting better. One fine day, Mumbai Police got a tip-off that Sobhraj and his Canadian girlfriend are staying at a city hotel. Apparently, he was there to receive some money in exchange of drugs. He was already a key person for international drug cartels in India and had formed a gang by then. It is said that he sensed the danger and left the hotel in the disguise of a waiter.

Anti-dysentery Capsules
He was a hero for Europeans on a Hippie Trail to Southeast Asia. Sobhraj’s knowledge of several languages and psychology helped him understand the mindset of his victims. He introduced a pill called anti-dysentery capsule to those who wanted to try hardcore drugs. They were told that it would save them from falling ill from the after-effects of chemically processed drugs. Needless to say that it was a ploy to actually get them unconscious. Sobhraj and his aides would later take these drugged people to secluded places to rob and kill them. His bikini killings featured the same modus operandi. It is believed that Sobhraj is involved in more than 20 murder cases.

Randeep Hooda in Main Aur Charles. (YouTube)

The Lawyer Lover
There was a time when Charles Sobhraj controlled the operations at Tihar Jail. There is a popular story about a senior official vacating his seat for Sobhraj in his office on his arrival. He ran a racket from the interiors of Tihar. He was said to be in intimate relationship with two women during this period, one of them was his lawyer.

Many years later, when he was arrested in Nepal, he charmed Nihita Biswas who worked as an interpreter for Sobhraj. It was Nihita who introduced him to Shakuntala Thapa, who later became Sobhraj’s lawyer. Lost in Sobhraj’s love, Nihita married the conman inside Kathmandu Central Jail when she was just 20.

11 February 1997 - Charles Sobhraj at a city court. (Pradeep Bhatia/HT Photo )

You still think making a film on Charles Sobhraj’s life is a bad idea?

Read: Randeep Hooda and Richa Chadha in Main Aur Charles trailer

First Published: Oct 29, 2015 15:20 IST