Promising Apple TV+ show Shantaram starts filming in October


Apple TV+ series Shantaram seeking incentives in India
Published in 39 languages, Shantaram sold 6 million copies.
Photo: St. Martin's Griffin

Apple TV+ series Shantaram, about an Aussie bank robber who becomes a gangster in the slums of Mumbai, will start filming in Australia this October.

The 10-episode series is based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Gregory David Roberts. If the show is anything like the book, Shantaram will combine nail-biting action with stunning scenery and thought-provoking philosophy.

That’s a whole lot to cram into 10 episodes. But a few key players stepped up to make one of Apple’s first international productions a reality.

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Apple’s limited series will begin filming two months from now in Victoria, Australia, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Australian movie director Justin Kurzel (Snowtown, Macbeth) is set to direct the first two episodes of Shantaram, as well as the last two episodes. Oscar-nominee Eric Warren Singer, who wrote the screenplays for American Hustle and the upcoming Top Gun sequel, adapted Roberts’ novel for the screen.

The semi-autobiographical book tells the story of Lin, an Aussie bank robber who escapes prison and flees to India. Most the action takes place in and around Mumbai (the city formally known as Bombay). So a lot of the location filming will take place there, the paper reports.

Can Apple succeed where Hollywood failed?

This is not the first attempt to bring Shantaram to the big (or small) screen. Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton have all been connected with past adaptions that fell through. Casting details for Apple’s production remain unknown, according to the Morning Herald.

The story takes place in locations as diverse as the mountains of Afghanistan, the slums of Mumbai and a prison in Australia. And the main protagonist, Lin, is an unlikely combination of ruthless gangster, tortured philosopher and Mother Theresa. The scope of the saga made Shantaram seem almost impossible to adapt for the screen.

Shantaram sounds like must-see TV

Shantaram is fiction, but it is based on a lot of real-life experience. Like Lin, author Roberts is a former armed robber and prison escapee who fled to India. Plenty of little details and observations from the book will ring true to anyone who ever visited India as a foreigner.

When Apple announced Apple TV+, it pitched the service as an antidote to toxic TV. The company framed Apple TV+ as a place for top creators to tell powerful stories.

If Apple succeeds where others failed with Shantaram, this promises to be must-see TV.

Apple TV+ launches in 2019

Oprah Winfrey says Apple TV+ can have a genuine impact on humanity. Shows like Shantaram could help.
Oprah Winfrey says Apple TV+ can help out humanity.
Photo: Apple

Apple TV+, a streaming video service that Cupertino hopes can compete with Netflix, launches sometime this fall. At this point, Apple remains mum about how much the service will cost. However, Cupertino reportedly will spend billions producing a broad slate of original content for its new platform. (Read our post “Every TV show and movie currently in the works at Apple” to get an idea about the size of the effort.)

We also don’t know exactly when Apple will launch Apple TV+. However, with Shantaram only now entering production, we will wait until at least 2020 to enjoy some Mumbai gangster action on our Apple TVs.