Gregory David Roberts’ “Shantaram” is all set to turn into an epic television drama. In a competitive bid, Apple won the rights for the bestselling novel and will develop it into an international series. Multiple studios were bidding for this project when Paramount Television and Anonymous Content landed the TV rights for the book, which was originally meant to be a movie starring Joel Edgerton.
This is an ambitious project because the book is considered epic literature, published in 39 languages worldwide. The book is loosely inspired by Roberts’ own life and it was praised because of its vivid, nuanced portrayal of life in the city of Mumbai, India.
The story centers on Lin, a man on the run from Australian prison who comes to Mumbai as a stopover while traveling to Germany but decides to extend his trip. Over the course of his stay, he befriends a guide named Prabhakar who takes him to his village. Prabhakar’s mother dubs him as Shantaram. Back in Mumbai, he gets a complete experience of the city, including life in the slums to criminal operations to working as a Bollywood extra to ethnic and marital conflicts in the community.
“Shantaram” the novel continues to achieve critical acclaim and rave reviews. Hopefully, Apple’s adaptation of it will do justice to the content by shooting in the city of Mumbai, depicting it in a real light, and casting South Asian actors to play pivotal roles.
Eric Warren Singer will write the script and executive produce it alongside David Manson, Steve Golin, Nicole Clemens, and Andrea Barron, the latter three of which work with Anonymous Content.
“Shantaram” marks Apple’s first major international TV gig. The company has been branching out into this department, giving series orders to several projects, including a 10-episode thriller from M. Night Shyamalan. A script order has been given for Oscar-nominated married duo Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon for “Little America,” an anthology about the life of immigrants in America.