Apple TV+’s drama series ‘Shantaram’ follows the astounding life of Dale, an Australian robber who ends up in the Indian city of Bombay after escaping from prison. During his stay in the city, upon assuming the false identity of Lindsay Ford AKA Lin, he meets Karla Saaranen, a Swiss-American who has connections with the key players of the Bombay underworld. The first three episodes of the show depict Lin and Karla’s first encounter and the bond they gradually nurture. Intrigued by their connection and companionship, we have set out to find out whether they do end up together. Let us share everything you need to know about the same! SPOILERS AHEAD.
Do Lin and Karla End Up Together?
After meeting Karla for the first time, Lin wonders whether she is his “guardian angel” since she saves him from hitting a bus. The encounter paves the way for a close acquaintance which eventually becomes an admirable friendship. Lin becomes Karla’s go-to guy when their mutual friend Lisa Carter gets into trouble with Madame Zhou. Although Lin doesn’t explicitly reveal his feelings for Lin right away, it is evident that he doesn’t see their companionship as just friendship. So, do they unite as a couple? Gregory David Roberts’s eponymous source novel of the show does reveal the answer.
In the novel, Lin and Karla do not end up together. After harboring intense romantic feelings for Karla, Lin eventually reveals the same to her upon visiting her in Goa. Upon his confession, they even end up making love. But their union as a couple doesn’t materialize. After getting involved in the Bombay underworld, Lin gets arrested and imprisoned, only for Karla to ignore Lin, hurting him. Furthermore, when Lin ends up in Afghanistan to fulfill a mission for Abdel Khader Khan AKA Khaberbhai, he learns that Karla has disappeared again and she has never seriously considered him as a potential partner.
The realization that Karla was the girlfriend of several of his Bombay acquaintances further crushes Lin. Although Karla shares a companionship and intimacy with Lin, “love” is something that doesn’t align with the foundations of Karla’s present life. Before coming to Bombay, Karla was raped and she had to kill her rapist for her survival. After nearly losing herself, Karla stepped up for herself and built a life in Bombay through the connections she made in the city. The struggles and obstacles she had to overcome taught her a lesson that vulnerability is the biggest threat to survival and as far as Karla is concerned, love is nothing but a synonym for vulnerability.
Karla cannot commit to another person and be vulnerable because she believes that doing so will only harm her. She doesn’t want anyone to control her life except herself and loving someone will pave the way for exactly what she doesn’t want in her life. During a conversation with Lin, Karla even says that one would need to “throw away” one’s pride, self-respect, and independence to be a lover. The last thing Karla wants is to sacrifice her pride, self-respect, and independence, which helped her survive even after struggling with near-death experiences.
Although Karla hurts Lin severely by disappearing from his life, she doesn’t do it without any warning. Even though she encourages him by making love with him, Karla has made it clear several times that her present self cannot be transformed into a lover. “I’m cold inside, Lin. I like people, and I like things, but I don’t love any of them—not even myself—and I don’t really care about them,” she tells Lin at one point. Unfortunately, Karla doesn’t make an excuse for Lin either. Thus, they never end up being partners.
Even in the novel, it is ambiguous whether Karla has ever nurtured any romantic feelings for Lin. Even if she has, it doesn’t make any difference in Karla’s life. As someone who prioritizes her independence and free will, Karla can only consider a relationship as a restraint, which helps her walk away from Lin’s life easily.