Brits book next from 'Slumdog' novelist

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The next novel from Vikas Swarup, author of "Q&A," on which "Slumdog Millionaire" was based, has been optioned by British producer Paul Raphael's Starfield Prods. and BBC Films.

"Six Suspects" is "Agatha Christie meets Elmore Leonard in Delhi," Raphael said Monday at the Dubai International Film Festival, where his "Under the Bombs" won top prize in 2007 and "Slumdog" serves as the closing-night film this year.

Raphael, who has an 18-month option on the newly published novel, has begun a search for a screenwriter.

After "Bombs" took Raphael and Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi on a world tour that saw the film earn 21 awards, Raphael partnered with the film's co-producer, Maya Hariri, to form London- and Paris-based Har Films.

Raphael said "Bombs" opened doors for him in the Middle East and North Africa.

Aractingi's next picture, which his Fantascope label will co-produce with Har, also has backing from the U.K. Film Council and Film Four, a backer of "Bombs."

The film is co-written by Jonny Brown and has British-Iranian comedian Omid Djalili and actor Georges Khabbaz attached. Raphael said he is talking to distributors and a female lead to round out the £2.5 million- £3 million ($3.75 million-$4.5 million) dark comedy about Arab identity in London. (partialdiff)
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