Shantaram is a 12-episode miniseries based on Australian Gregory Davids Roberts’ novel of the same name. It has an incredible story to tell about an Australian bank robber who escaped from prison and fled to India to start a new life. He takes on a new name, Lindsey, and quickly makes new friends in Bombay. However, he becomes involved in the politics of local gangs, which is complicated further by a corrupt society and a strong bond he developed with the locals he lived with in Bombay’s slums.
Shantaram begins a little underwhelmingly, but as the series progresses, Lindsey’s story becomes increasingly intriguing. The story touches on a variety of topics, including the strength of friendship and loyalty, betrayal, corruption, poverty, and gangsterism in India. Despite the depressing circumstances and suffering depicted, the series has a lot of positive messages as well as positive aspects. The plot is intriguing and frequently takes unexpected turns. I like how the main character is flawed and frequently makes mistakes, which inevitably sets off a chain reaction that inevitably leads to unfortunate outcomes. I also liked the background setting of the Bombay slums because it provides a rare glimpse into the difficult lives of India’s poor. As with any good series, the overall performances here are very good. Charlie Hunnam, who also serves as one of the series’ producers, plays the main character admirably. I dare to say that this is his best work to date. Charlie also appeared in Raised by Wolves (which has since been cancelled), Pacific Rim, and King Arthur.
Gregory Davids Roberts, the author of Shantaram, has a remarkably similar background to Lindsey, making this seem like an autobiography of his life. He is a former heroin addict and convicted bank robber who escaped from an Australian prison in 1980 and fled to India, where he spent ten years. That sounds exactly like Shantaram’s main character! This close personal connection lends an air of authenticity to the story, as well as the variety and uniqueness of the many characters Lindsey meets.
A bit of a spoiler alert here, but the series ended with the words “To Be Continued,” leaving a number of questions unanswered. Unfortunately, I read that the series’ producer, Apple TV+, has announced that there will be no second season! This is a huge disappointment and injustice for anyone who has seen and enjoyed this series. Nonetheless, I would not let this information deter you from watching and experiencing this remarkable series, and I continue to strongly recommend it for viewing.