Screen adaptation of the 2003 novel in the 1980s Shantaram It took decades to make, but it finally hit Apple TV+ with Charlie Hunnam in the lead role.
He plays Lynn, a convicted bank robber and heroin addict who escapes to India after escaping from prison. However, his new life in Bombay takes him to dark and dangerous places.
Steve Lightfoot, NBC’s chief production officer, co-produced. Hannibal and Marvel’s series on Netflix the punisher. He succeeded where Johnny Depp and others failed.
She interviewed lead man Hunnam and co-star Shubhum Saraf for the period piece smash, what they fought for, light in the dark moments, and Hunnam never said never to play Bond.
Simon Thompson: There’s a line of dialogue in the first episode saying that after only three nos no no no no so how many nos did you give this project before you signed in? Or how many times have they said no, and won’t take that as a definitive answer? Let’s start with Charlie.
Charlie Hunnam: First of all, this is amazing (laughs). good job. It was a two way road at first because everyone said yes, but then there were some one way roads and then to each other, and we struggled our way back to yes. So, this was not an easy process. Everyone had a clear idea of what they wanted to do, and sometimes those ideas weren’t uniform, but that’s part of the creative process. It works as long as we all do it with love and have an end destination in mind. Fortunately, in this case, we got there.
Thomson: Shubhum, let’s talk about how much space you’ve been given to make these characters your own. It’s not an autobiography, but it’s inspired by real people. Did that give you more or less room to play with them?
Shibham Sarraf: This is a good question because one of my favorite aspects of the whole process was how collaborative everyone was. I joined production reasonably late, and for Steve Lightfoot, executive producer Bharat Naluri, and Charlie, it was their longtime child. The story stayed with Charlie for seven years. Even though I jumped on board at that point in the game, they met me with open hearts and open eyes. They all wanted to know what I was thinking, and soon I was like, “Actually, what if we did it like this because I’ve been to Bombay so many times.” I was a real pain in the ass, but despite that, everyone was very willing and helpful with me, especially Steve and Charlie. Charlie and I did our own thing, and everyone had to deal with it (laughs). I felt like I was doing this messy dance, and somehow we got away with it. Well, we’ll let the audience be the judge of that, I guess.
Thomson: Charlie, because your character includes so many sides, have you been given less space to play with?
Hunnam: Yes and no. I participated in two separate iterations to see how we can take this wonderful and beloved piece of source material and adapt it. My character, Lynn, was one of the central questions about how we dealt with that. I had the firm conviction that we needed Lynn to be truly impartial in the beginning, that he was attached to every man who made a mistake and radically changed the course of his life, and that we didn’t burden him either. Lots of baggage as a result. Lynn’s journey felt like the journey, an extraordinary journey throughout the novel. Regarding the major creative struggles we were having, they basically asked the question, “How much exposure to criminality has affected Lane?” It wasn’t my faith at all because we needed to go somewhere, and the Bombay mafia became, in a cool and new way, a formidable character in the story later. We wanted to see the appeal of that, and I wanted to see and know the consequences of giving in to the dark side. If there was already, we had nowhere to go. This has been a vigorous debate for a long time.
Thomson: You talk about the dark places this makes, but Shubhum, your character, Prabhu, brings enthusiasm to certain moments, especially his relationship with Lin.
Exchange: You’re absolutely right. I think Prabhu and the slum world are half of that battle between darkness and light. Charlie describes it as the Kingdom of God versus the Kingdom of Gold, and herein lies the darkness. Prabhu was delighted to play. He is arguably living one of the hardest lives for anyone in this story because he lives in darkness every day. He has faced his poverty and hunger to the extent that no one can imagine, and somehow still comes out with that aura you speak of and overcomes these impossible obstacles through love. I think that’s the bright lesson at the heart of the story. No matter the magic paradox or the ongoing battle of the heart and will, there is a choice you can face, and within that choice, there is love, and within it lies freedom.
Thomson: This is set in the ’80s, as in the original book, but not overtly in the ’80s. Sometimes people like to imitate things, but this looks very organic and contemporary too. Were there discussions about how credible it is and how hard it is to push that?
Hunnam: It was definitely a discussion at first, and every department gets involved in that. How would fashion go in the 80s? Are we going to use the movie stock to replicate the movie stock of the ’80s? All these different departments had to study that. When we initially shot the first iteration of this, we shot in India, and it’s impossible to block the streets in Mumbai, so we were shooting at bridges and things where there are thousands of people. There is a variety of dress in India, some people are very traditional and then there is a trendy hue where Nikes and the latest shirts are. It was very difficult to commit on that first iteration to continue in the pure period, and I think we were happy with that result. When our hands were forced, and we had to go to Thailand instead of India and re-create India, I think that sense of not being beholden to this period was already set for us.
Thomson: With so much work and movement into this, Bond came to my mind for you, Charlie. You have presence and body. They want a new 007 with a 10 to 15 year commitment. Do you have 10 to 15 years to spare?
Hunnam: I mean, I definitely do. I laugh at it when it pops up every once in a while when I click. People like you put my name in the hat very nicely. No one officially approached me about it. I will definitely consider it, and it would be a great honour. It’s going to be a huge commitment, and I have a lot of things I want to do over the next 10 to 15 years, but it worked out really well for Daniel Craig, so you know, never say never. second.
Shantaram Streaming on Apple TV +.