The fifth episode of Apple TV+’s drama series ‘Shantaram’ follows Lindsay “Lin” Ford’s concerns regarding his life in Bombay using a fake identity. He worries whether he will get arrested by any cop in the city. His fears get fueled when Kavita, an Indian journalist and a regular at Reynaldo’s Café, expresses her interest in doing a story about Lin and his efforts to help the slum-dwellers of Sagar Wada. Fearing that any fame will expose his real identity, Lin asks her not to pursue the story about him, making her suspicious of him. As the episode follows Kavita’s attempts to unravel the mystery behind Lin, we have found out whether the character is based on a real journalist. Well, here’s what we can share about the same!
Is Kavita Based on a Real Journalist?
‘Shantaram’ is an adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ eponymous novel, which is heavily inspired by the author’s own time in Bombay. However, Roberts has always insisted that the book is a fictional novel rather than an autobiography. Since Roberts had revealed that most of the characters in the book don’t bear “even a remote resemblance to any real person I’ve ever known,” as per the book’s official website, it is safe to assume that Kavita is a fictional character than the counterpart of any particular real journalist. Still, it isn’t accidental that Kavita, or any character in the show or the source novel for that matter, seems realistic.
“Characters can be real people in this world, but that’s really a kind of photography in writing art,” Roberts once said. “It isn’t the actual generation of a character from your own imagination, with all their flaws and all their glories… The kind of character we’re talking about here is not a two-dimensional drawing, it’s not a cartoon, it’s not invented for five minutes; it’s a real thing… [If] you follow all of the steps, with a rich backstory and with enough reality impasted upon that character from things you really know and you’ve really lived, people can have the feeling that they’re real even though [they’re not].”
Considering Roberts’ words, Kavita can be a fictional character who represents real people who had tried to find out the truth behind the author’s stay in Bombay. Like Lin, Roberts was also in Bombay after escaping from prison. There might have been people whose actions jeopardized Roberts’ safety in Bombay by nearly exposing the truth that he was a fugitive on the run. Roberts might have been inspired by his experience with those people to conceive the character Kavita.
If that’s not the case, Roberts must have created Kavita to increase the tension and enhance the drama of the narrative of the novel. Through Kavita, Roberts succeeded in depicting Lin’s fears of getting caught. The journalist not only triggers Lin’s fears of getting confined again but also reminds him that he is just a fugitive in exile. Considering that Roberts views ‘Shantaram’ as a novel about “exile experience,” the author might have specifically created Kavita to depict how Lin is constantly reminded that he is an outsider.