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Epic Fail: Apple TV+ Drama Series ‘Shantaram’ Set in the Slums of 1980s Bombay Cancelled After First Season

Epic Fail: Apple TV+ Drama Series ‘Shantaram’ Set in the Slums of 1980s Bombay Cancelled After First Season

  • Based on Gregory David Roberts’ epic 900-page novel of the same name, it follows Lin Ford (Hunnam), who escapes a maximum-security Australian prison, and reinvents himself while living in India.

Fans of Charlie Hunnam’s “Shantaram” on Apple TV +, have been left hanging after the streamer announced that the drama series will not be returning for a second season. The announcement coincided with the Season 1 finale on Dec. 16. 

Based on Gregory David Roberts’ epic 900-page novel of the same name, “the ambitious, big-scope undertaking was shot across two continents, that was impacted by the pandemic,” a Deadline report said. 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,” the report added. 

“Shantaram” 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, says the series synopsis. “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 synopsis adds. 

Also starring are 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. The series was written and executive produced by showrunner Steve Lightfoot., and directed and executive produced by Bharat Nalluri.

Before getting a greenlight at Apple TV+ as a series, the book had been the subject of multiple unsuccessful attempts to turn it into a movie franchise, led by Johnny Depp.

In an interview with Collider before the series cancellation, Hunnam said that as “an adaptation of a novel, we’ve only told, at a maximum, one-third of the story, our hope that this would be continued is somewhat self-evident, for those who actually know the novel and know that this isn’t where the story ends.” Referring to the “to be continued” disclaimer at the conclusion of Season 1, he said, “the idea was that we would leave with a sense of unfinished business.”

Hunnam was introduced to the novel years ago, while on a vacation to Thailand. He told Entertainment Weekly that he “devoured” the 900-page book and “couldn’t put it down.” He knew it “deserved to be brought to life on screen,” he told EW in October, adding that he “felt passionately about producing a TV adaptation of it. But he had to wait a long time until the rights became available. When they were finally up for grabs, “the dream became alive again and here we are,” he told EW. Although he preferred to stay behind the camera, he “ultimately decided to portray Lin later in the development process.”

However, playing the part wasn’t easy. Hunnam told Collider that Lin’s character pushed and challenged him. He said he had “a very clear idea” of what he wanted to do with the role, “both for the benefit of the role and the show, but also for the benefit of myself.” He wanted to “up” his game and “try to make Lin as honest and authentic and relatable as possible, and not an archetype, but a real human being, and that requires taking off some of the armor and not relying on some of the tricks.” 

Elaborating further, he told the entertainment website that “in any given scene or episode of ‘Shantaram,’ and whether it was on the page or not, and often it was, I was determined to terraform it into what I was wanting to explore.” And by doing that, Hunnam said he “bolstered the conviction of the storyteller, that Lin was a regular human being, and not a criminal or a gangster.”

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Meanwhile, several fans posted on Twitter to hail the series “as one of the best TV shows this year, and about their disappointment on the discontinuation of the series, and urged Netflix or Amazon prime Video to pick it up. 

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