Shantaram, the latest crime thriller starring Charlie Hunnam on Apple TV V+, is based on a best-selling novel which in turn is inspired by a ridiculously true story. The Sons of Anarchy actor stars as an Australian convict who finds a new life in India while dealing with newfound challenges with the mob.
Shantaram‘s “man-on-the-run” premise coupled with its setting in the urban jungle of Mumbai, the show is bound to impress fans of similar crime dramas or even international adaptations of novels set in India, much like Gregory David Roberts’ original paperback.
Stream On HBO Max
When an ominous ex-con finds refuge in the small town of Banshee, he ends up assuming the identity of a deceased Sheriff. With his newfound responsibility as a man of the law, the antihero is made to question his own morals. Problems only increase further when he runs into his ex-crime partner in the very same town.
The grey areas that Banshee‘s narrative explores are reminiscent of the personal evolution of Charlie Hunnam’s Lin after he becomes Shantaram in his Indian sojourn.
Stream On Netflix
A Swedish miniseries starring Bill Skarsgård, Clark deals with the outlandish life of notorious criminal Clark Olofsson. Charged on multiple counts of murder, robbery, and narcotics supply, Olofsson got away from the authorities through his smiling personality and in fact, is always believed to have started the phenomenon of “Stockholm Syndrome” by charming his victims.
Even though Olofsson is an actual law offender from Sweden, his real life and subsequent shows like Netflix’s Clark seem to include such over-the-top events that viewers would spend their heads scratching over what is real and what is exaggerated. The same can be said for Shantaram given that convict-turned-writer Gregory David Roberts himself leaves it up to the audiences to figure out how much Shantaram is adapted from his real life.
Sacred Games (2018-2019)
Stream On Netflix
In the everlasting claustrophobia of Mumbai, a cop and a gangster are caught in a cat-and-mouse game with a conspiracy that might affect the entire fate of the city. Standing out on its own as one of the best international Netflix shows, Sacred Games is a neo-noir that balances style with substance.
The way Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s charismatic mobster Ganesh Gaitonde manages to draw the city’s forces in his ambit would be reminiscent of Shantaram’s Khader Khan, the man who ties the protagonist with the Afghan mafia. Then, of course, the chaotic streets of Mumbai serve as common ground for both series.
Sons of Anarchy (2008-2014)
Stream On Hulu
The everyday misadventures of a motorcycle gang feature in Sons of Anarchy, a violent tale of brotherhood, loyalty, crime, and redemption. Struggling to balance his personal life and his gang alliances, Charlie Hunnam’s Jax Teller plays the morally gray hero of the series. He along with his biker peers might not be evil people per se, but their actions still border on vigilantism.
The show that catapulted Charlie Hunnam to mainstream fame will continue to be one of his most memorable screen credits. Fans of Shantaram might just wish to revisit Sons of Anarchy to not just witness the British actor’s dramatic prowess but his different approaches at playing such troubled and introspective criminals.
Escape At Danemorra (2018)
Stream On HBO Max
New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility was shaken up in 2015 when two convicts escaped from the prison. The manhunt that followed revealed wilder details with a prison employee helping them after being sexually involved with both of them. The Ben Stiller-directed miniseries Escape At Dannemora delves into the details that preceded this surprising escape.
When it comes to shows dealing with runaway convicts, the dramas can either fall under a more-action-driven approach like Prison Break or a more fact-based and dialogue-driven style akin to series like Escape At Dannemora. Shantaram‘s ambitious tale of Lin running away from Australia and then exploring new avenues in India and Afghanistan borrows a little from both kinds of prison dramas.
The Fugitive (2020)
Stream On The Roku Channel
Inspired by both the 1960s series and the subsequent 1993 film, The Fugitive introduces new characters and new scenarios but with the same adrenaline-fueled intensity as its predecessors. After a bomb blast rocks the city, an innocent man is framed for the crime and now, he must not only face an obsessive detective on his trail but also misinformation on social media that quickly brand him as the bomber.
While The Fugitive‘s geography might not be as extensive as Shantaram, both series offer interesting twists to classic “mistaken identity” tropes within the crime genre. And with episodes clocking between just 6 and 9 minutes, the miniseries would make for a quick binge.
White Teeth (2002)
Stream On Acorn TV
Based on English author Zadie Smith’s iconic novel of the same name, White Teeth offers a plethora of issues from the perspectives of Pakistani and Indian-origin immigrants in Britain, covering not only their present-day scenarios in Britain but also flashbacks of Second World War and the era of British-ruled India.
By exploring multiple storylines just like the source material, White Teeth serves as a good adaptation that still manages to stay relevant in today’s times. Even though vastly different in genres and themes, Shantaram similarly is an adaptation worth watching for how it explores the multicultural scope of its original book.
The Punisher (2017-2019)
Stream On Netflix
Based on the hyperviolent tales of one of the best street-level heroes in Marvel Comics, The Punisher humanizes the character of Frank Castle to disturbingly dark levels. Jon Bernthal’s moving lead performance captures the angst of a man who has lost everything to crime and is now ready to sacrifice his morals to turn into a violent beast himself.
Both The Punisher and Shantaram are created by Steven Lightfoot, showcasing his versatility with adaptations of morally ambiguous characters. While Shantaram might not have had the personal trauma of Frank Castle, both antiheroes end up falling into a cycle of destruction despite their wishes to lead a relatively peaceful life.
A Suitable Boy (2020)
Stream On Netflix
Set in the post-Independence era in the Indian subcontinent, A Suitable Boy is adapted from the period epic of the same name by Indian-American wordsmith Vikram Seth. The 1950s are brought alive in this heartwarming miniseries as three different suitors try to win over a girl who is torn between her duties as an obedient daughter and an independent woman.
As A Suitable Boy‘s plot delves into cultural changes, generation gaps, and the historical evolution of India, the Mira Nair-directed venture is vastly different from Shantaram, but it is another interesting chapter in English-language television when it comes to new-age takes on Indian culture and society.
Mad Men (2007-2015)
Stream On AMC
Considered to be a masterclass in writing and one of the best TV shows of today’s day and age, Mad Men is a satirical take on the rise of New York’s ad agencies following the 1960s. The center of attention is Jon Hamm’s charmingly mysterious Don Draper, an ambitious ad man who evolves throughout the series as viewers get glimpses of his self-philosophical experiences and the fears of hiding his ominous past.
In fact, Draper’s early years and his later attempts to change his identity form crucial themes in the show as the plot progresses. So, if the viewers of Shantaram are eager to check out more shows on the concept of new identities and changing lives, Mad Men would be an instant classic to binge on.
NEXT: The 10 Best Apple TV+ Original Movies, According To Letterboxd