Is Netflix’s Ludik Based on a True Story?

Created by Paul Buys and Annemarie van Basten, Netflix’s crime series ‘Ludik’ revolves around Daan Ludik, a furniture company owner who smuggles diamonds using his company shipments. When a close relative gets abducted, Daan gets forced to strike a deal with the devil, which jeopardizes his reputation and trustworthiness. As his diamond trafficking gets affected, Daan aims higher to compensate for his loss.

The South African series progresses through Daan’s efforts to expand his empire, the challenges he faces while doing the same, and the police investigators’ attempts to discover the truth behind his suspicious affairs. The furniture company owner’s life is entangled with the reality of his country, making one eager to know whether he and his tale have real-life connections or counterparts. Well, let us provide the answer!

Is Ludik a True Story?

No, ‘Ludik’ is not based on a true story. The series was originally conceived by creators Paul Buys and Annemarie van Basten. However, the fictional narrative of the show is built upon a foundation of reality. Although the diamond smuggler Daan Ludik is a fictitious character, diamond smuggling isn’t fiction in South Africa. The country is historically and currently known for diamond mines and has been affected by diamond smuggling for decades. Over the years, traffickers have used innovative methods, including carrier pigeons, to smuggle diamonds, reminding us of Daan’s smuggling using his furniture products.

Another significant subject the show explores is firearms trafficking in Africa. Through Daan, Arend Brown, and Albert Nkala’s association, Buys and Basten explore the severity of firearms trafficking in the continent and South Africa in particular. In reality, The Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime recently reported that 3.8 million unregistered illegal firearms are in circulation in South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, making the role of the same in underworld crimes, mass shootings, and wildlife crimes evident. Considering the same, the particular storyline of the Zimbabwean Albert Nkala seemingly has several real-life parallels.

Buys and Basten conceived the narrative of ‘Ludik’ with these real-life affairs as the foundation of the show. The series also succeeds in depicting the dangers and consequences of such smuggling affairs as well. Still, the show doesn’t limit its scope and appeal to South Africa. As per Sean Cameron Michael, who plays Arend Brown, the series consists of several universal themes and the characters are relatable to viewers from all across the world. Sean’s words make it clear that ‘Ludik’ is an exploration of universal aspects of human life, such as greed, rather than just a South-African gangster tale.

Greed is a flaw that is present in most of the major characters of the show. Whether it be Daan, who wants to grow beyond Brown by joining hands with the Nkalas, or Brown, who tricks the Nkalas to sell the guns to a different buyer, their greed affects both of them. Markus’ wish to build his life on his own terms and Hein and DJ Jakes’ greed that leads them to take advantage of Daan are storylines that explore greed as well.

As Netflix’s first Afrikaans series, ‘Ludik’ does depict an intricate fictional tale that is rooted in the reality of South Africa. Although the characters and their lives are fictitious, they aren’t drastically different from the gangsters and traffickers that dictate diamond and firearms smuggling in the African country.

Read More: Where is Netflix’s Ludik Filmed?