Netflix’s The Serpent revives Charles Sobhraj’s cold-blooded story. Does it work?

The darkish and lethal story of Charles Sobhraj has been catnip for variations books, movies and tv for many years. The notorious killer preyed upon Western travellers on the Hippie Trail in Asia again within the free-wheeling 70s. Now, The Serpent on Netflix has chronicled his reign of terror, his slithery evasiveness and eventual incarceration. The eight-part restricted collection stars Tahar Rahim because the sinister Charles and Jenna Coleman as his confederate, Marie-Andrée Leclerc. Before this, Bollywood gave us an account of Charles Sobhraj’s exploits in India with the 2015 movie Main Aur Charles, that includes Randeep Hooda. Do these representations do justice to the actual Charles, whose story is commonly thought-about stranger than fiction? We discover out.


Charles Sobhraj’s story has all the makings of an intriguing true-crime dramatisation an enigmatic persona, a mess of crimes, a killing spree throughout international locations and a global cat-and-mouse chase. The Serpent makes an attempt to current this slice of historical past, even when in a scattered style. There’s loads of deception, medicine, gems, id theft and homicide. But the collection fails to reside as much as its premise. Yes, the elements are all there for a terrific crime drama, however the product is a multitude due to the incessant time jumps and clumsy narrative units. Maybe a condensed collection would have labored. That stated, the collection isn’t with out its thrills and one does maintain on, to know what turns into of the infamous serial killer and his accomplices.


The Serpent deftly captures the chaos of Asia, proper from the buzzing streets of Bangkok to the thriving hippie oasis which was the backpacker hostel of the Seventies. But it is marred by a ping-pong of flashbacks that go from nation to nation. Why would the makers spotlight each shift in time and placement with the identical imagery and sound results? Also, we get launched to scenes in Paris with “PARIS” written on the display screen and photographs of each the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe. Completely pointless.

We perceive Charles Sobhraj’s modus operandi – he befriends, medicine, robs, murders hapless hippies and makes use of their passports. The backpackers simply fall prey to the suave Charles Sobhraj whereas being on a quest for religious enlightenment. But in attempting to point out this, The Serpent looped and overlapped many features of the murders at completely different phases of being conned, drugged and killed off. And that makes it monotonous. What was speculated to evoke sympathy falls flat with loads of vomiting, smothering and body-dumping scenes.

Watch the trailer of The Serpent here:


The Serpent brings a contemporary perspective from the perspective of the junior Dutch diplomat named Herman Knippenberg, who chased Charles in Thailand even after dealing with resistance from his superiors and the nation’s authorities. In the Indian manufacturing Main Aur Charles, we noticed Amod Kanth, performed by Adil Hussain, attempting to apprehend Charles. In each the collection and the movie, we see the officers preventing a corrupt system that’s keen to not make waves, stir controversies and stays disdainful of the victims.

The Serpent additionally delves into Charles Sobhraj’s relationship with Marie-Andrée, whom he seduces slightly than scams, slowly bringing her into his world of crime. While accents run all over and we don’t perceive why the makers selected a British actress for the half, it’s attention-grabbing to look at their sinuous relationship unfold.


Main Aur Charles provided little or no to the viewers when it got here to understanding the person, his motives and murderous historical past. The movie launched us to Charles to start with as ‘hypnotic, brutal, intelligent and ruthless’. But we by no means actually get to see how he turned that man, we by no means get an perception into his prison thoughts. We simply get informed and retold of his appeal and seduction. While Randeep Hooda was convincing as Charles, along with his side-parted slicked-down hair, snake-like slither, smirks than smiles, the movie’s narrative meanders and the banal dialogues kill the joys additional.

The movie centered on the well-known Tihar jailbreak during which Charles Sobhraj broke free with a number of prisoners. But nothing within the movie comes even near recreating the lifetime of crime of a person who attained movie star standing and was repelled on the identical time.

Watch the trailer of Main Aur Charles here:


Whether we speak about The Serpent or Main Aur Charles, we see little character growth. Yes, each the actors Tahar Rahim and Randeep Hooda performed their half effectively, however the finish merchandise aren’t fascinating. One of Sobhraj’s biggest methods, when he wasn’t outright killing his victims, was to mildly poison them, nurse them again to well being, poison them some extra, and on and on whereas they developed a dependence. You really feel the identical as you proceed watching the story of Charles Sobhraj, the factor you need is correct there, however then the scene adjustments, the plot shifts and also you’re again to needing for extra. Over and over once more.

In the tip, you’ll have to Google the occasions that unfolded to find out what truly occurred. The makers of each The Serpent and Main Aur Charles are responsible of the identical. Maybe, the main points are too tough to dramatise totally. But the takeaway is that the monsters we create by legends, folklore, books or movies come nowhere near the monsters that persons are truly able to changing into.

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