Author Gregory David Roberts’ best selling novel Shantaram, about an Australian fugitive making a new life for himself in the slums of Mumbai will finally be seen as a 10-part series. In the series that is acquired by Apple Inc, the popular Hollywood actor Charlie Hunnam will play the titular character who has an epic cultural adventure in Mumbai while hiding from the law.
The novel based on the author’s own life was first offered to Mira Nair almost 20 years ago as a feature film with Johnny Depp as a producer. Joel Edgerton was to play the lead, while Amitabh Bachchan was to play an important character. However, Mira opted out and the directorial onus fell on Garth Davis who directed the Oscar-winning film, Lion, but the latter too opted out.
Finally, now the project has gone to Apple, and technically Bachchan remains attached to the project. However, the question arises whether he will agree to shoot, especially when Apple doesn’t plan to bring the shooting to Mumbai (the city where the original story is located).
One of the reasons why Mira Nair opted out of the project was because she wanted to shoot the film on authentic locations in the chawls of Mumbai, whereas the producers felt that shooting in Mumbai slums was no longer a global box office fetish after Slumdog Millionaire.
In 2007, Mira, in an interview, had mourned her departure from the project mainly because she lost the chance to work with Amitabh Bachchan. “Alas, we have been stalled temporarily due to the crippling nature of the writers’ strike in Hollywood. Johnny Depp assures me that this is just a pause and that we’ll start again once the strike is resolved. I’ve spent a year of creative endeavour in realising Shantaram, so I look forward to the time when it will all come together,” she had said.
The cast, which initially boasted of Bachchan and Johnny Depp, also featured Irrfan Khan and Konkona Sen Sharma among others.
Mira sighed, “I can close my eyes and see Mr. Bachchan and Johnny Depp together.”
But, now that Shantaram has changed hands it’s time to open our eyes to a new cast in a new project....