Deadline.com— Apple TV+’s drama series Shantaram, starring Charlie Hunnam, will not be returning for a second season. Its Season 1 finale, to be released tomorrow, December 16, will serve as a series finale.
Based on Gregory David Roberts’ epic, 900-plus-page novel, Shantaram was an ambitious, big-scope undertaking, shot across two continents, that was impacted by the pandemic.
The series had shot two episodes before pausing filming in late February 2020. Because of its expansive nature requiring filming in multiple countries, the series did not resume production on the remaining 10 episodes until May 2021.
Shantaram, which hasn’t generated the level of buzz some of Apple TV+’s popular titles have, follows Lin Ford (Hunnam), who escapes a maximum-security Australian prison, reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of 1980s Bombay, gets entangled with a local mafia boss and eventually uses his gun-running and counterfeiting skills to fight against the invading Russian troops in Afghanistan. All the while he is falling for an enigmatic and intriguing woman named Karla (Antonia Desplat) and must choose between freedom or love and the complications that come with it.
The series also stars Shubham Saraf, Elektra Kilbey, Fayssal Bazzi, Luke Pasqualino, Alyy Khan, Sujaya Dasgupta, Vincent Perez, David Field, Alexander Siddig, Gabrielle Scharnitzky, Elham Ehsas, Rachel Kamath, Matthew Joseph and Shiv Palekar.
Before getting a greenlight at Apple TV+ as a series, Roberts’ book had been the subject of multiple unsuccessful attempts to turn it into a movie franchise, led by Johnny Depp.
The Shantaram series was written and executive produced by showrunner Steve Lightfoot. Bharat Nalluri directed and executive produced. Andrea Barron, Nicole Clemens, Steve Golin, Justin Kurzel and Eric Warren Singer, who co-created the series with Lightfoot, also executive produced. The series was produced for Apple by Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.
EW.com — Charlie Hunnam wants to know what happens to his character Lin Ford after Shantaram’s brutal season 1 finale cliffhanger just as much as you do. But it might be a while until we find out what happens next, because the star/producer of Apple TV+’s drama doesn’t have any news to share on whether or not the adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ 2003 international best-selling novel will return for a second season (Shantaram was canceled after this interview was conducted).
“It’s unlike working for a traditional network which I’d been used to doing, where there was some sort of indication of if anyone was watching the show or not — it’s not how streaming platforms work — so it’s a little bit bittersweet in that season 1 is coming to an end,” Hunnam tells EW. “Out on the streets, I get a sense that people are enjoying it and watching it, and creatively for me, it feels satisfying that we actually managed to get to the finish line and now all of the episodes have aired and I just hope people actually enjoyed it.”
The season 1 finale almost ended with Lin getting his happy ending with Karla (Antonia Desplat) after surviving the bloody gang war and evading Nightingale (David Field). They planned to leave the city together after finally confessing their love for each other, but when Lin arrived at the train station to meet up with Karla, he was caught and taken to a dark cell. The finale closes on a shot of Lin being violently beaten while tied up in the cell as Karla cries on the train, thinking Lin changed his mind and didn’t want to leave with her.
Below, Hunnam breaks down that tragic finale ending and more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What have you thought about the response to the show now that all the episodes are out?
CHARLIE HUNNAM: People seem to have really appreciated that it felt grounded and quite authentic. The hope was, for those people who’ve not been lucky enough to experience Asia and India in particular, that they felt like they were transported and had an opportunity to feel that environment and the beauty of that part of the world. That’s been really, really satisfying. And as the season has gone along and built up the question of what will happen between Lin and Karla, that’s been really satisfying — it seems as though people got quite excited and invested in that relationship.
And then, of course, what I already knew would happen is that Shubham [Saraf], who plays Prabhu, just has been getting an unbelievably positive response. He’s my really good pal and I felt so grateful and excited to have him in the show and be such a partner in crime with him. I have just been delighted that he’s been getting such a positive response. We really, really loved each other. We got on so well and deeply connected.
The finale ends with Lin captured as Karla leaves without him, unaware he was caught at the station just a few feet away from her. Why end the season there?
I had a really wonderful, deep collaboration with Steve Lightfoot, our showrunner. That was really his decision, but thankfully he was very eager to get my insights in how I felt about some of the decisions he was making. We both knew the novel so well and we talked a lot about allowing the novel to dictate the moves that we were making. The point that we reached by the end of the first season, it just felt, the more we read it and discussed it, like the obvious point to end this chapter of the story. Lin going from incarceration to, presumably, back into incarceration felt like a very elegant arc for the first season and hopefully a fairly dynamic point to start the second season, if I’m lucky enough to go back for a second season.
How does coming so close to getting a happy ending with Karla before it gets ripped away affect Lin going into a second season?
This is no indication of decisions that have been made, but my sense is that, through the course of the first season, Lin goes from being a fairly normal, average person who’s at the mercy of the forces around him. Though he has a sense of who he is, it’s not like a classic hero on a hero’s journey where he’s full of agency and a sense of conviction of what he wants with his life. He’s more leaf in the wind being blown this way and that. My sense is, by the end of season 1, he is no longer willing to be just completely vulnerable to the forces around him, that instead he is going to march to the beat of his own drum and decide that the chips fall where they may.
There’s a moment at the very, very end where the camera’s pretty close to Lin and you get the sense that, although he’s tied up and being beaten, he is still owning his space and refusing to bow down to the circumstances that he finds himself in. Moving forward, hopefully we allow Lin to have a much greater sense of conviction and agency over the trajectory of his life.
NYTimes.com — Seven years ago, the British actor Charlie Hunnam took a book with him on an overseas vacation and was so engrossed that he didn’t get around to sightseeing.
“I literally did not see one vista of Thailand,” he said, and it was because of “Shantaram,” Gregory David Roberts’s 2003 novel about a bank robber who escapes an Australian prison and takes refuge in a Mumbai slum. “I was exclusively in India for that trip, with my nose in the book.”
With that, his friend, the screenwriter Eric Warren Singer, succeeded in turning Hunnam onto his obsession — adapting “Shantaram.”
Others had spent years trying. Warner Brothers had acquired the rights, with Johnny Depp slated to star as the robber, Lin Ford. But directors and screenwriters had come and gone, and Depp took on other work. When the rights finally became available, Singer and Hunnam’s team was outbid but ultimately won the creative pitch.
Now Hunnam is playing Lin in the Apple TV+ series, and Singer is billed as a co-creator with Steve Lightfoot.
In the end, timing was everything.
“I was entering my mid-30s and was asking some bigger questions about the nature of God and what my journey was turning out to be,” Hunnam said in a phone interview from Toronto, where he was on a press tour. While Lin’s quest was extraordinary, he added, “had this come to me two or three years earlier, I wouldn’t have had the same reactions.”
Hunnam, who is moving into writing and producing, plans to spend the next six months creating a series that he couldn’t talk about. But he spoke openly about a few things that rule his world — opinion-free news, the Lake District in England and his iPod — and pondered his final resting place.
These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
1. “Bloomberg Surveillance”
I’m appalled by the nature of modern journalism and quote-unquote the news. There’s a lot of conjecture, there’s a lot of opinion, and there’s too little facts. I want to know what’s going on, but I want that information to be given to me in a fairly neutral way. “Bloomberg Surveillance” is looking at the world exclusively through the lens of the economy. I find that much more palatable than being told that this politician is the devil and that one is Jesus reincarnated.
I have a strange sense that maybe I was born in the wrong form — you know, maybe I was born a cat in a human body — because outside of my parents and my current partner, my most important relationship was with my cat George that I had for 19 years. And I constantly run into cats. I ended up buying a piece of land in central California because this magnificent female mountain lion was living there. I hope that this doesn’t end up in disaster, but I am making a fairly reckless plan to become friends.
3. Van Morrison, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen
Waits excites my imagination as much if not more than any other artist. Morrison is a king of sad, melancholy nostalgia. And the summer of being 14 or 15, I found marijuana for the first time, and I found Leonard Cohen. There was something about that summer that told me who I wanted to be — that there was a world out there that I wanted to gravitate toward. It was a sense of coming to life in a way that art can invoke.
4. “Tribe” by Sebastian Junger
Junger goes on this journey of exploration to understand PTSD because he’d been embedded as a war correspondent — recognizing that PTSD is not only about the trauma, it’s about the experience and loss of that. Where he comes down is ultimately the importance of community and collective experience. Isolation is the recipe for disaster.
5. The Lake District in England
I grew up in Newcastle and was very popular until I was 12 years old. Then I went across the country to a place that was far less cosmopolitan. My first day, this kid two years older than me blocks my path, and he was asking, “New boy, where’d you come from?” I was getting a bit nervous, and he said, “Do you want a go?” And I said yes. I didn’t know that that was colloquial for fighting. So he punched me straight in the face. That was how that five years in the district continued: just an absolute crucible of violence and isolation. But I had this extraordinary natural wonder literally on my doorstep. I took to the mountains, walking and planning what my life was going to be when I was old enough to live it on my own terms. Continue reading Press/Interview: Charlie Hunnam Discusses Being a Cat Person, His Appreciation For His iPod and More with The New York Times
HollywoodReporter.com — Charlie Hunnam is famous for his acting chops, a nearly 100-episode run on FX’s Sons of Anarchy and two dozen credits on everything from buzzy series to films of both the blockbuster and independent varieties. But the actor says he has every intention of soon being known as something else.
Introducing Charlie Hunnam, the screenwriter.
“I’m trying to pivot basically full-time after Shantaram into becoming a writer,” he told The Hollywood Reporter recently, referencing the Apple TV+ series he toplines based on the Gregory David Roberts epic novel.
There’s one caveat: “I’m by no means going to stop acting but I’m going to try and only act in things that I write.”
He’s off to a head start. Hunnam reports that he’s hard at work on a handful of projects including some feature screenplays as well as miniseries that he wrote and set up at an undisclosed studio and a TV show set in his hometown of Newcastle, England that is loosely based on his late father, a scrap metal merchant, and others he grew up around.
“I’m starting to get some real traction and I hope to unveil some of this stuff over the next couple of years.”
With Shantaram’s first season currently airing on AppleTV+ you may have found yourself curious about the origin of the show and the book it’s based off of.
Who is Gregory?
The book Shantaram was written by Gregory David Roberts who was born in Melbourne, Australia. Sentenced to nineteen years in prison for a series of armed robberies, he escaped and spent ten of his fugitive years in Bombay—where he established a free medical clinic for slum-dwellers, and worked as a counterfeiter, smuggler, gunrunner, and street soldier for a branch of the Bombay mafia. Recaptured, he served out his sentence, and established a successful multimedia company upon his release. Roberts is a now full-time writer and lives in Bombay.
Fascinating, right? What a life he has lived and more so, what stories he must be able to tell.
The 7 Year Journey
Now, you must be wondering: How did it get adapted to television? Well, it was a 7-year long journey as Charlie tells it. Here are some quotes of Charlie sharing his thoughts and experience behind what it took to finally get Shantaram on our television screens.
“Seven years ago, I read Shantaram and it became an obsession for me to be part of the creative team that would bring this adaptation to screen,” he revealed. “Luckily, seven years later, that tenacity has paid off and I’m the guy that got to play Lin.”
Collider: Charlie, as I understand it, this first came your way in the form of the book and it hadn’t gone into development as a TV series yet. How many years ago was that, and what was it about the story that really kept you following the project over the years, instead of just giving up on it?
CHARLIE: So, I was given the book about seven years ago and fell madly in love with it, as a novel. It’s a pretty spectacular piece of writing, very clearly lead-begging to be adapted to the screen. The problem was that it was owned by Warner Bros. for many years. At the time, it was a film-centric industry, so for many, many years, they labored to try to whittle the story down to a two-hour narrative, which I think was just impossible to do. So me, coming from television when I read the book, I was immediately thinking about it long-form, thinking you tell a story over 30, 40, or 50 hours.
The guy who gave it to me, Eric [Warren Singer], was one of our first producers, who’s still a producer on it. We just went on a journey of basically stalking Warner Bros. to see when the rights would became available. We tried to secure them ourselves, were unsuccessful, and then found out who was successful in securing them, and tried to convince them to hire us. That was the way it went.
The reason I wanted to do the project, honestly, is that it’s just an incredible odyssey of adventure, love, betrayal, criminality, gods, and everything in between. The adventure of it and the uniqueness of the environment, all of that, felt fresh and exciting to me. But then, most of all, it was just the themes. Gregory David Roberts, who’s the author of the novel, is an exceptionally bright thinker. The way he explores theology, philosophy and psychology in this book, gave us some really juicy themes to play with, if we could bring it to screen.
Collider: Charlie, you’ve done a variety of films since Sons of Anarchy came to an end, but this is the first TV series that you’ve led since then. Had you been hesitant about doing another TV series? Was it just about finding a character that you wanted to play for a longer period of time?
CHARLIE: It was this. I was obsessed with this, and it’s taken seven years, which is basically the amount of time that I’ve been free from my contract for Sons of Anarchy. In the moments where I lost faith in this actually happening, and there were a few of those moments, I considered some other TV opportunities because I was actually very eager to get back to TV. I was proactively looking for an opportunity to get back into television. But this was the one I just always came back to. There were some things that I got really close on, that have ended up being great, but I just held the line and said, “This is the one that I really wanna do the most.” Thankfully, Apple was game for it.
“It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured.”
An escaped convict with a false passport, Lin flees maximum security prison in Australia for the teeming streets of Bombay, where he can disappear. Accompanied by his guide and faithful friend, Prabaker, the two enter the city’s hidden society of beggars and gangsters, prostitutes and holy men, soldiers and actors, and Indians and exiles from other countries, who seek in this remarkable place what they cannot find elsewhere.
As a hunted man without a home, family, or identity, Lin searches for love and meaning while running a clinic in one of the city’s poorest slums, and serving his apprenticeship in the dark arts of the Bombay mafia. The search leads him to war, prison torture, murder, and a series of enigmatic and bloody betrayals. The keys to unlock the mysteries and intrigues that bind Lin are held by two people. The first is Khader Khan: mafia godfather, criminal-philosopher-saint, and mentor to Lin in the underworld of the Golden City. The second is Karla: elusive, dangerous, and beautiful, whose passions are driven by secrets that torment her and yet give her a terrible power.
Burning slums and five-star hotels, romantic love and prison agonies, criminal wars and Bollywood films, spiritual gurus and mujaheddin guerrillas—this huge novel has the world of human experience in its reach, and a passionate love for India at its heart.
You can purchase your very own copy of the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and many other retailers by visiting Macmillan Publishers and don’t miss Shantaram which is exclusively streaming on AppleTV+ now!
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