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Shantaram - What We Know So Far

In September 2019, Variety reported that Charlie Hunnam had landed the leading role in the upcoming Apple TV+ mob series "Shantaram." This marked a positive update for an adaptation — based on David Gregory Roberts' 2003 book of the same name — which, until that point, had proven to be a development nightmare. 

Warner Bros. bought the screen rights to Robert's book way back in 2004, with Johnny Depp attached to star in a big-screen adaptation. However, the project stalled due to the writer's strike (per Deadline). In 2013, Depp revived the project through his production company Infinitum Nihil with Joel Edgerton attached to star. Nothing came of Depp's endeavor, and in 2018, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Paramount Television (as well as their partner, Anonymous Content) had won a bidding war to adapt "Shantaram" for the small screen.

Although the dream of seeing "Shantaram" adapted has finally gained traction, though, the project has continued to be plagued with problems. Here's everything we know about Apple TV's "Shantaram."

When will Shantaram be available to stream?

Even after moving from feature film to TV series, "Shantaram" has experienced numerous delays. In February 2020, for instance, Inside Film revealed production on "Shantaram" had halted with just two episodes completed, with plans to hire a second showrunner to work alongside writer-showrunner Eric Warren Singer, allowing Singer to finish the scripts. However, Variety reported the "Top Gun: Maverick" scribe was quitting altogether, and in November, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Steven Lightfoot was taking over for Singer. Lightfoot's other TV producing and writing credits include "Behind Her Eyes" and "The Punisher" for Netflix, as well as NBC's "Hannibal," based on the character created by Thomas Harris. In March 2021, Deadline announced "Shantaram" would resume production in May. Originally set to film in India and Australia, production shifted to Thailand due to the surge of COVID-19 cases in India. However, after roughly a week of shooting, the Thailand Film Office shut things down due to a third wave of the virus hitting the country, according to Variety.

Despite all these delays, "Shantaram" has survived, and according to Deadline, the Apple TV series is now scheduled to debut on October 14. 

Who's in the cast of Shantaram?

In "Shantaram," Hunnam plays an Australian escaped convict named Lin. Hunnam, after getting his start on the TV series "Queer as Folk" and "Undeclared," finally found lasting success with "Sons of Anarchy." The series helped to launch Hunnam's film career, and since then, he doesn't appear to be drawn to warm and fuzzy roles, preferring to stick with the action-adventure and sci-fi genres. His film credits include "Children of Men," "Pacific Rim," "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword," and "The Gentlemen." 

"Shantaram" will mark Hunnam's first TV role since "Sons of Anarchy." Hunnam could use a hit, and he's been off the market so to speak, because of his commitment to "Shantaram," which has gone on far longer than the actor could have predicted.

In March 2021, Deadline reported that Alexander Siddig will star opposite Hunnam, playing the crime boss Khader Khan, described as a notorious figure "who acts as a surrogate father to Lin." While "Game of Thrones" fans will cerainly recognize Siddig as Prince Doran Martell, the ruler of Dorne, his most iconic role is probably that of Dr. Julian Bashir on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," which he played for seven seasons. The Sudanese actor's other TV credits include "Gotham" (as the infamous Ra's al Ghul), "Deep State," and "Peaky Blinders."

What is the plot of Shantaram?

The plot of "Shantaram" revolves around Hunnam's Lin, who escapes an Australian prison and winds up in Bombay. "Cut off from family and friends by distance and fate, he finds a new life in the slums, bars and underworld of India" (per Deadline).

In the case of "Shantaram," truth is as strange as fiction. The book mirrors the exploits of its author. Roberts began writing the manuscript while  — spoiler alert — serving time in an Indian prison. After becoming addicted to drugs, the native Australian committed a string of robberies landing him in prison. He escaped and embarked on adventures that included "drug smuggling, passport counterfeiting, gun-running for the mujahedin in Afghanistan, and working for the local Mafia in Bombay" (per Entertainment Weekly). Roberts also gained notoriety by penning a newspaper column about his exploits.

"Shantaram" has also been described as "an exploration of love, forgiveness and courage on the long road to redemption" (per Deadline). It certainly sounds like an exciting concept for a TV series, and after such a rocky road, we can only hope it all pays off in the end.