The Apple TV series “Shantaram” is based on Gregory David Robert’s classic 2003 novel of the same title. The story revolves around the life of an Australian bank robber who escaped from Australia’s Pentridge prison and fled to India’s most populous city, Bombay. He arrived in India under the alias Lin Ford (played by Charlie Hunnam), where he started a hustle to earn a living so that he could live as a free man in the new country. However, his journey is more about discovering how much freedom he would have in a city rotten with corruption and misery at its core. So far, Apple TV has aired three episodes in which we will uncover the circumstances that influenced Lin’s decision to remain in Bombay.
How Did Lin Feel Freedom in India?
“Shantaram” Episode 1 begins in Australia’s Pentridge Prison in 1982. An Australian bank robber, who is the narrator of the story, manages to escape from prison with the aid of a fellow inmate. Despite strict prison security and a horde of convicts, he managed to flee from his cage. He arrived at one of his teachers’ houses, where he received some cash and assistance. He was a bank robber who had been incarcerated. While reaching out to his teacher for some help, the narrator revealed that he wanted to become a paramedic, but that was impossible for him now, at least in his own country. The teacher, after a heavy discussion, handed over some money to the narrator of our story because he was aware of his origin and trusted him anyway. To flee from Australian authorities, the narrator reaches Bombay, India’s busiest and most populated city. The narrator used a phony passport and assumed the identity of Lindsay Ford.
When Lindsay arrived in Bombay, he was greeted by Prabhu (played by Shubham Saraf), a local guide, who started referring to him as ‘Lin’ from Lindsay. He was given a hotel room by Prabhu, who also provided him with a bad cab trip. However, Bombay of the 80s, amidst the crowds, bazaars, and Bollywood songs, seemed like heaven to Lin. For the first time, Lin was able to taste freedom with all of his heart. Lin felt terrible when he remembered his time in prison and the abuse he had endured there, but Bombay’s noisy air served to divert him. Finally, Lin encounters Karla (played by Antonia Desplat), a stunning lady who might be his potential love interest. Karla gave him an invitation to Reynaldo, a neighborhood pub.
Every expat in Reynaldo Bar was either a crook or a criminal. Among them, Lin meets a crook named Didier, a sex worker named Lisa (played by Elektra Kilbey), and her boss Maurizio. Lin impressed everyone with his acting skills and accent imitation, except for Maurizio, who didn’t like this new man in town much. On the way back at night, Karla accompanied Lin, and he learned about Karla’s outlook on life. Lin’s background in philosophy allowed him to easily comprehend Karla’s statements. Karla believed that people never change, and they keep losing everything one by one on this journey. While heading home, they felt a romantic tension between them. However, on Lin’s way back to the hotel, he was stopped by a group of policemen. When the police started harassing him for breaking the night curfew, Lin escaped from their grasp.
Why Was Lin Mugged?
The next morning, Karla arrived at Lin’s hotel room and informed him that Lisa had been taken to a brothel, which could be terrible for her mental and physical health. She informed Lin about Gilbert Parker, an American Embassy worker who was no longer in town and who was the only person who could save Lisa. So, Karla asked Lin to go to the brothel with her in the guise of Gilbert Parker. Lin did not agree at first. In the interim, he thought of leaving Bombay, so Prabhu told him to stay in his village. However, Lin’s heart ached from the horrors of prison and the torment of the warden (prison in-charge). He changed his mind and contacted Karla since he suspected Lisa was going through the same thing.
Lin, suited (and disguised) as Gilbert Parker, arrived at the brothel to meet the mistress, Madame Zhou. The owner was intimidating, but Lin managed to tackle her threats and smartly rescue Lisa. At night, when Karla brings Lisa home, Karla reveals her true motives. She had used Lin just the way she had used Lisa. In fact, Karla’s intention was not to rescue her but to send her there to gather information about a man named Ruzul. Lin soon felt betrayed, seeing Karla’s merciless demeanor before his eyes. He rushed out of there but was mugged on his way back to the street. His passport and money were all taken away by the goons. They were probably Madame Zhou’s men or the thugs she had hired to find out about Gilbert Parker’s real identity.
Who Was Ruzul?
“Shantaram” Episode 2 reveals to us that Lin actually got some financial help from his fellow robber, Charlie, before coming to India. Charlie helped Lin to forge a fake passport so that he could run away to India. Lin wanted to come to India, where he would lose everything and find himself anew. We return to the morning following that night when Lin was mugged and lay injured in the street. Everything had been robbed, and he felt vulnerable at the moment. Lin returned to the hotel with the assistance of the police. Prabhu claimed that they would have to leave the hotel as it would be risky to live here without a passport and money. They escaped from the hotel via the window and arrived at Prabhu’s slum, where neither any authority nor any God bothered to come. Prabhu and Lin spent the night with local food and booze. Prabhu offered to assist him with the passport, but Lin insisted that he would have to stay clean from the authorities.
Karla and Lisa had a discussion in which it was revealed that Ruzul was the minister who struck a secret arrangement with Walid Shah. Lisa felt Karla used her to get this information the same way she used Lin for her selfish means. Meanwhile, Lin arrived at Karla’s house and begged for some money from her as he had been mugged earlier. Karla walked out of the apartment, saying she had nothing to do with anything and leaving Lin with Lisa. Lin and Lisa spent some time together, but Lin kept his intentions clear and did not touch Lisa. Lisa puked and declared that she would quit taking drugs. Lin began to have flashbacks of a time when he was talking to his girlfriend while injecting drugs. They were discussing coming to India to take a lot more drugs all day. Lin refused to allow these emotions to influence him. Lisa perceived Lin as a nice guy, and that is why she was of the opinion that he shouldn’t mingle with the affairs of corrupt men, and thus she refused to share any information concerning Ruzul with him. She didn’t want Lin to end up dead in the gutters or meet a similar fate as those corrupt people.
Who Was Khader Khan? What Was His Connection with Karla?
Lin informed Didier of his situation and requested assistance in getting a passport. However, Didier refused any assistance openly, as he probably didn’t have much influence in the city. In desperation, Lin approached Maurizio, but he already disliked Lin, so approaching him caused almost a fight between them. Lin was compelled to visit Prabhu’s slum and contacted Charlie to demand money, but he refused to help Lin any further. Lin believed that the only way out now was to do a little business with Prabhu. Both of them started arranging charas for visitors, and so on. Finally, Karla arrived and gave Lin some money so that he could leave Bombay.
At that moment, Karla met her Godfather, Khader Khan (played by Alexander Siddig), an underworld criminal in Bombay. It was finally revealed who Karla really worked for. Karla told him about Ruzul and how he got involved with Walid Shah. Kader Khan immediately sent for Ruzul after hearing this information. Perhaps Ruzul, being Khan’s business ally, joined hands with Walid Shah and betrayed Khader Khan. As a result, Khan killed Ruzul with his own hands.
Finally, Lin said his goodbyes to Prabhu and tried to leave the slum at night. On the street, he met Madame Zhou’s man, who might be there to catch Lin. Lin managed to escape from his grasp, but in their struggle, they ignited a fire that burnt some huts in the slum. Lin blamed himself for the fire and thus could not leave these people alone, even if he wanted to. He entered the slum once again to save Prabhu and the others with him. Lin couldn’t ignore the pain and cries of these people as he had a sense of responsibility towards any person in need of medical attention. He dreamt of becoming a paramedic one day, and even though he didn’t have a degree like the others, he had the right intent.
‘Shantaram’ Episode 3: Ending Explained – How Was Lin Compelled to Stay in Bombay?
“Shantaram” Episode 3 begins with the flames of fire burning the slum and its people. It started to spread so quickly that Laxmi, a female slum inhabitant, was severely injured in an accident. Having a background in paramedics, Lin began treating the injured slum people to the best of his abilities. Qasim, the slum’s likely leader, praised Lin for assisting the slum’s injured residents. However, because of a lack of a hospital, drugs, equipment, and a qualified doctor, Laxmi could not be saved, which forced Lin to blame himself for her death.
Meanwhile, Khader Khan met his most powerful enemy, Walid Shah. Walid Shah appeared to be a more powerful underworld figure than Khan. Their chat suggested that they might be fighting over the right to a place named Sagar Wada. Khader contacted brothel owner Zhou as well, who supported Ruzul in his arrangement with Walid Shah in her brothel called “Palace.” Zhou appeared to be devoted to Khader, yet she had her own voice. She stared Khader in the eyes and talked confidently. Khader did not kill her since he knew she might be utilized in another way. In the meantime, Lin continued to provide medical services to slum dwellers. Obliged by Prabhu’s offer, Lin agreed reluctantly and soon became a doctor for the people of the slum. Lin’s flashback told us why he was actually arrested. While on the run from a bank robbery with Charlie, he got into a fight with a police officer. In the scuffle, Lin’s gun accidentally went off, and the officer died. Lin could not leave the dying man in this state, and thus he was caught by the cops.
Khader had previously received information about Lin from Karla. So, he approached Lin and showed him around the city. Lin, unable to decipher Khader’s mysterious persona, believed him to be a very intriguing fellow. Lin was infatuated with Khader without even understanding the fact that he could be harmed or killed by this underworld lord. Khader took Lin to an Indian bar where the ambiance was filled with Indian songs played on Indian musical instruments. Lin was so enthralled by the ambiance of the bar and the presence of Khader that he was enamored by the words that Khader was throwing at him. They spoke about God and how, at the end of the day, everything becomes a lie. Khader said that the eyes are liars, and everything is an illusion. As if Khader was speaking a magic spell, every word was hitting right at Lin’s brain. What Khader wanted to mean was that the situation was somehow accurate. Lin did not even know what or whom he was getting involved with. Lin began to see Khader as the most alluring person, without even realizing that he was falling for the trap, where it could be possible that Khader was using him for his own purpose. The soothing music, too, added to that note, and even though Lin didn’t understand a word of it, each string and each chord aroused certain emotions inside him that night. Lin had tears in his eyes, maybe because music makes us feel most vulnerable.
Nevertheless, Karla spotted Lin sitting in the same bar, so she approached him, and Khader asked Lin to introduce him to his friend. Probably, it was all staged by Khader so that he could openly declare his association or friendship with Karla and Lin, which he had been hiding from everyone so far, especially Madame Zhou.
Lin returned to the slum and discovered that Laxmi’s funeral had been finished. Her son, Ravi, who blamed Lin for his mother’s death, attacked Lin out of rage, but Qasim intervened and asked Ravi not to destroy his future in the pursuit of vengeance. Qasim even scolded Lin for allowing Ravi to hurt him, as the action might have relieved Lin of his guilt but would have eventually destroyed the young boy’s life. At this point, Qasim called Lin selfish, and that was the exact word that Lin wanted to hear. We think that this entire incident will help Lin to bring about a change in his character.
In a poetic gesture, Qasim gave Laxmi’s hut to Lin to stay in as a part of his punishment. It isn’t clear why Qasim did so, but in my personal opinion, the things that remind you of your duty every day should be near your heart or eyes because, without them, we are nothing but flesh and bones. That hut will remind Lin how it feels when a doctor or a paramedic fails to save one life, and thus, in the future, he will not let this happen ever again. Lin had the consciousness and talent to save a person’s life, but he was running away from it all along because he blamed himself for a lot of other things. It was time for Lin to accept his past and come to terms with it. It was about time he understood that one shouldn’t live for themselves alone but make some time for the service of others also.
So far, Lin has attempted to escape Bombay numerous times, but it seems like at the end of Episode 3, Bombay wanted to keep this tourist a lot longer than he wished to. It is said that the waves of Bombay decide the fate of a person and whether the city wants to accept a person or not. And by the looks of it, it seemed like Bombay had accepted Lin. Maybe that is why no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t leave the city.
What Can We Expect From ‘Shantaram’ Episode 4?
Lin Ford, whose early life as a bank robber was nearly spent in prison, found freedom in India. He found himself in the busy metropolis of Bombay’s pollution, culture, and corruption. He was a fugitive and a criminal, yet he had a sense of compassion. Prabhu, a simple Indian guide, quickly became his close companion. Even within a few days, Lin felt at home in the slum-like place. However, as simple and self-sufficient as he wanted to live here, it might not be feasible due to the scary people surrounding him. Lin quickly became involved with the major figures of the Underworld. Also, Lin probably feels romantically connected to Karla, who is actually just an emissary to the people of the Underworld. However, their relationship has not yet progressed that way in these three episodes and will be further explored in the upcoming episodes.
The suspense created by the first three episodes makes us hopeful that the next episodes will be even more intriguing. Lin might make an appearance alongside Khader Khan. However, we must wait until Khader Khan’s genuine objectives concerning Lin are revealed to us. But it’s not just Khader who seems corrupt and cruel; there are a whole bunch of adversaries out there eyeing innocent people and waiting for an opportunity to exploit them, and Lin is unknowingly becoming a part of this underbelly.
The expatriates of this city who are secretly involved in crime are ruthless individuals. Corruption and secrecy make them ironclad, from whom no sympathy could be expected. Among them, everyone from Zhou to Khader Khan only understands business, for which they can even kill people. It is up for discussion if Lin understands the real intentions of every masked person among them. Maybe Lin will be used in many ways by different people before even realizing it. Even his exit from Bombay might seem impossible. But in the next episode, it will be interesting to see if Lin can keep his secret identity safe among the many people who are exploring India while wearing masks.