South African producer Anant Singh, head of Videovision and Distant Horizon, has snapped up the much sought-after film rights to 'mind-body-spirit' guru Deepak Chopra's fictional works The Return Of Merlin and Soulmate.

The deal was negotiated and concluded during Chopra's visit to South Africa last week. The rights to The Return Of Merlin were originally controlled by Peter Guber (Batman, Batman Returns) of Columbia Pictures.

"The Return Of Merlin and Soulmate are two completely different types of books, unique in their quality, and I am delighted to have been able to acquire the rights to transform these into motion pictures," said Singh.

"Soulmate reminded me of Ghost and I think that it has tremendous possibilities - it is a drama with humour and a lot of heart. On the other hand, The Return Of Merlin is something that I would never have expected Deepak Chopra to have written. It is a fantasy set in medieval Britain and is very much in line with the current trend of films like Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter."

The rights to both books were bought for a six figure dollar sum. Singh says that Soulmate being the smaller project will take between 12 and 18 months to develop and could be shot in South Africa. The Return Of Merlin on the other hand will be developed as a major project, "It's a $100m movie and we'll have to do it with a studio. Right now we're approaching writers and I think that The Return Of Merlin will take two to three years to develop."