Shantaram is the first project Apple has backed in Australia for its forthcoming Apple TV+ service, and among Apple’s first international productions.
Karl Quinn for The Sydney Morning Herald:
The long-awaited screen adaptation of Shantaram will begin shooting in Victoria in October, with Snowtown‘s Justin Kurzel directing the first two and final two episodes in the 10-part series for Apple TV.
The series will shoot in India and Victoria, with Docklands Studios and the former Pentridge Prison site in Coburg hosting much of the action. Regional Victoria is expected to double for Afghanistan in parts of the story.
Shantaram has been adapted for the screen by Eric Warren Singer, who was nominated for an Oscar, alongside David O. Russell, for his screenplay for Russell’s film American Hustle in 2014.
The semi-autobiographical 2003 novel by Gregory David Roberts tells the story of a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from Pentridge and flees to India, where he reinvents himself as a doctor in a slum before embarking on a series of crazy adventures that include working as an extra in Bollywood, passport forgery in Mumbai, and arms trafficking in Afghanistan.
The federal government has committed $7.4 million towards securing the production, on top of the 16.5 percent location offset. That suggests the total spend of the series in Australia is in the region of $55 million. The state government has also invested through Film Victoria’s production incentive attraction fund.
MacDailyNews Take: Given the production schedule, Shantaram is likely to bow in 2020. With talent such as Eric Warren Singer and Justin Kurzel, the series holds much promise as a draw for Apple TV+ next year!
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The book, Shantaram, is outstanding. If the series is anything close to the original story, it will be great. Making a series is the only way to portray this vivid account. Very smart move by Apple.