sobhraj: Charles Sobhraj: 8 books and films that delve deep into the life, crimes, and psyche of ‘The Bikini Killer’

Charles Sobhraj, the infamous serial killer, recently returned to France, after spending nearly two decades incarcerated in a jail in Nepal. On December 21, the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered his release on health-related issues. Sobhraj returned to France on Dec 25. According to a report by
ap, the 78-year-old is planning to “sue a lot of people.” While on the flight from Nepal to France, he told
AP, “I feel great… I have a lot to do. I have to sue a lot of people. Including the state of Nepal.”

Who is Charles Sobhraj?

One of the most notorious serial killers of the 21st century, Charles Sobhraj is a half-Sindhi, half-Vietnamese serial killer and fraudster who gained notoriety for preying on Western tourists traveling on the hippie trail of South Asia in the 1970s. He would reportedly pose as a gem trader to lure his victims. He was given the moniker of ‘The Bikini Killer’ as many of his victims were found clad in bikinis.

Sobhraj’s dysfunctional childhood, his ruthless killings, and ingenious ways to bluff the police have left an indelible impact on pop culture and have birthed several biographies and films. Here are a few books and movies you can go through if you want to know more about The Bikini Killer:

On The Trail Of Serpent: The Life & Crimes Of Charles Sobhraj

Published in 1979, this book co-authored by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke has been featured in the best-selling lists and is still counted as one of the most important authorities of the Sobhraj’s life, crimes as well as thought processes. The book was the product of a series of several interviews with the prolific felon while he was imprisoned in the Tihar Jail in 1977. In an article published in
The Guardian, Clarke later recounted how harrowing and addicting it was to get to know the charming, loquacious yet poker-faced killer who apparently had not even a shred of remorse about his crimes. She wrote how Sobhraj’s “creepy emissaries” would arrive at odd hours with handwritten missives” from the killer. The book, later on, became the inspiration behind many films such as ‘Shadow Of The Cobra’ and many more.

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This was the other well-known biography of the serial killer. Written by Thomas Thompson, ‘Serpentine’ is a faithful retelling of the crook’s life and reign of terror. The book ends with Sobhraj’s conviction by the Supreme Court of India, on August 8, 1978.

Charles Sobhraj: Inside The Heart Of The Bikini Killer

Published in 2018, this book explores a different aspect of ‘The Bikini Killer’. The Sobhraj in this book is not a suave and calculating crook, but a frail old man who struggles to come to terms with his failing health. The book was written by Raamesh Koirala, Sobhraj’s doctor. The book also explores the themes of ethical dilemmas medical professionals may face while treating seasoned criminals.

Shadow Of The Cobra (1989)

This was probably the first cinematic adaptation of Sobhraj’s life and dastardly crimes. The TV mini-series starred Art Malik in the role of Sobhraj. The series was based on the official biography of the serial killer, ‘The Life & Times of Charles Sobhraj’ written by Richard Neville and Julie Clarke.

‘Sobhraj, Or How To Be Friends With A Serial Killer’ (2005)

This was a feature documentary that explored Sobhraj’s life in Paris where he lived as a common citizen with two wives and two children for seven years.

‘Charles Sobhraj: The Brain Killer’

This National Geographic documentary is a no-frills, no-beating-about-the-bush narrative about Sobhraj’s tumultuous life and explored his trail of horrific killings and robberies.

‘Main Our Charles’

This is probably the on-screen adaptation of the serial killer’s life that Indians will be more familiar with. This 2015 Prawaal Raman directorial starred Randeep Hooda in the role of the glib and flamboyant crook, who does not hesitate to take a life to reach his goals.

‘The Serpent’

This eight-episode Netflix series stars Tahar Rahim in the role of Sobhraj and Jenna Coleman as his muse and moll, Marie-Andree Leclerc.

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