Cholera and shady sex take a toll on Shantaram [Apple TV+ recap] | Cult of Mac

Cholera and shady sex take a toll on Shantaram [Apple TV+ recap]

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Shantaram recap Apple TV+: During an outbreak of disease, Lin Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam) makes a sketchy deal.★★★
During an outbreak of disease, Lin Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam) makes a sketchy deal.
Photo: Apple TV+

TV+ Review There’s a cholera outbreak this week on Apple TV+ epic Shantaram, and impostor doctor Lin Ford finds himself in the thick of it. If he saves lives, he’ll become a hero. If he doesn’t, he’ll be a pariah.

Meanwhile, Lisa and Karla make business arrangements that threaten relationships with the people closest to them. Abdullah gives Maurizio an ultimatum, Khan gives the competition a scare, and Lin must make some very hard choices.

It’s another gripping episode of the Bombay-set thriller.

Shantaram recap: ‘Apo Vai Pranah’

Season 1, episode 7: In the episode, entitled “Apo Vai Pranah,” Lin (played by Charlie Hunnam) has a real mess on his hands. The slums where he lives and works are newly racked with cholera.

He was about to leave town but he can’t now, especially because Prabhu (Shubham Saraf)’s girlfriend Parvati (Rachel Kamath) has the disease. Prabhu’s going to blame Lin if she dies, and Lin knows it only too well. They dig in and start trying to prevent the outbreak’s spread and attempting to cure the dozens who are coming down with it.

Minister Pandey (Alvin Maharaj) has been caught by Khader Khan’s (Alexander Siddig) men having an affair with local sex worker Sunita (Tharanya Tharan). That gives them leverage over him and his puppeteer Walid Shah (Mel Odedra).

Karla Saaranen (Antonia Desplat) objects when Khan and Abdullah (Fayssal Bazzi) suggest giving her to vicious, cunning Madame Zhou (Gabrielle Scharnitzky) as a prisoner. But unless she has a better plan to kidnap the girl and squeeze Pandey into outmaneuvering Shah, that’s what they’re doing.

More sticky situations

Lisa (Elektra Kilbey) and Modena (Elham Ehsas) are on the outs, understandably. She’s agreed to sleep with one of his clients, Rahim (Justin Amankwah), because she knows the money’s going to get them clear of Bombay. He felt pressured to not object when his friend and business partner Maurizio (Luke Pasqualino) suggested this, nd she wishes that he had.

Now that he hasn’t, he’s jealous that she’s going to sleep with someone else. While they’re having it out, Maurizio is negotiating larger and larger drug shipments with Madame Zhou behind their backs.

When Abdullah, Khan and Karla show up to Zhou’s place, she initially thinks it’s because they found out about her heroin operation. They ask her to abduct Pandey’s mistress, but she reasons a better strategy would be to buy a lot of her colleagues’ “contracts” so to speak. That way, it won’t look like a kidnapping but rather a perfectly normal business arrangement between scumbags.

Karla sits tight with Zhou until the girls are brought in, and the two discuss their mutual enmity toward each other. They’ll have to forget they hate each other if they want this scheme to work and for each of their precarious positions to go unchanged.

The dangers of the drug trade

Abdullah, as a favor to Karla, goes to Maurizio and tells him to stop selling heroin. She doesn’t want Lisa hurt, and if Khan finds out her boyfriend and his partner are selling, they’ll be killed. So Abdullah tries to have them end things quietly and diplomatically.

Modena doesn’t want to hear any of this. He’s in the hotel lobby waiting for Lisa to finish having sex with their potential buyer. If they stop selling, what would the sex have been for?

Lin feels hopeless as the death toll rises from the cholora outbreak. So, against the wishes of his neighbors, he goes to Khader Khan and asks him for clean water for the slum. There’s a condition, of course — there always is.

Khan will give him the water for nothing but the public knowledge that he gave them the water. He wants the people of Lin’s neighborhood to know he saved them. To be indebted to him as a whole.

Will they accept this? A murderous gangster’s favor? A few people make their distaste known (especially Qasim Ali [Alyy Khan], who’s sort of like the mayor around these parts). But mostly everyone agrees to Khan’s terms when he shows up with the water (plus rice and medicine). Lin doesn’t mind that some people will hate him for this — he’s going to flee in a couple of days anyway.

The fine art of making deals with crooks

The funniest bit this week on Shantaram comes when, after essentially selling out his people in the slum to Khader, Lin says in a voiceover that he didn’t mind doing it because his conscience is clean.  Prabhu even basically gives him absolution for this transgression because it might save Parvati’s life, but I don’t know that he sees this as a “win” exactly.

Lin’s put thousands of people under the thumb of a pimp and a blackmailing murderer. That doesn’t sound like much of a solution. If the show had leaned a little more into the inherent contradiction, it would have been even better, but I don’t mind so much because, obviously, Lin’s worldview has been blinkered from the start.

He’s a good guy who wants to help people. But he’s also a crook who didn’t think twice about robbing a bank. Thus, he continues to take the easy way out of his problems by going to crooks for help.

And we end with a truly touching moment

The best bit this week, however, came when Prabhu tried to cheer up a very sick Parvati by recounting the plots and songs of Bollywood movies for her through the walls of her hut. It’s obviously a very touching gesture, but also it allows Prabhu a little more interiority and emotional heft as a character.

He’s one of the few characters on the show who doesn’t have to make truly underhanded compromises just to live (just ordinary ones). So it’s nice to see him work so hard for something he really wants — and get rewarded for it, too. At the end of the episode, her parents finally let him come in and visit her. He’s finally got their blessing.

★★★

Watch Shantaram on Apple TV+

New episodes of Shantaram arrive on Apple TV+ every Friday.

Rated: TV-MA

Watch on: Apple TV+

Scout Tafoya is a film and TV critic, director and creator of the long-running video essay series The Unloved for RogerEbert.com. He has written for The Village Voice, Film Comment, The Los Angeles Review of Books and Nylon Magazine. He is the author of Cinemaphagy: On the Psychedelic Classical Form of Tobe Hooper, the director of 25 feature films, and the director and editor of more than 300 video essays, which can be found at Patreon.com/honorszombie.