Apple TV+’s drama series ‘Shantaram’ revolves around the incredible life of Lindsay Ford AKA Lin, an Australian robber who ends up in the Indian city of Bombay upon escaping from prison. Lin’s life takes a wild turn when he establishes himself in a slum in Bombay by running an illegal clinic at the place. He also gets involved with the Bombay underworld, which opens a window to a life of adventures for Lin. The period series progresses through the changes that happen to Lin as a person as he continues to reform himself. Inspired by the captivating life of Lin, we have found out whether he has a real-life counterpart. Let us share our findings!
Is Lin Based on a Real Person?
Lin is a fictionalized version of Gregory David Roberts AKA GDR, who wrote the eponymous source novel of the show. Even though GDR had insisted that all the characters in the novel, including Lin, are “created” by him rather than based on any particular real-life individuals, the protagonist and author share unignorable similarities. Like Lin, GDR was a robber who was imprisoned at Pentridge Prison before he escaped from the prison and ended up in Bombay. “Some experiences from my life are described pretty much as they happened,” the author revealed in an interview.
Like Lin, GDR also befriended a local guide named Prabhakar, the inspiration behind the character Prabhu in the show and Prabaker in the novel. They both lived in a Bombay slum and GDR even ran an illegal clinic to serve the people of the region. GDR’s stay in Bombay also led him to the fantasy world of Bollywood. He became a part of the cast of several films as an extra, like Lin. “I played bit roles [in Bollywood]. A gora in a party scene or in the villain’s den. If you see old Hindi films, the ones made in the 1980s, look at them hard. You may find me in a scene or two,” the author told Rediff.
In ‘Shantaram,’ Lin has ties with the Bombay underworld as he gets recruited for various criminal operations. GDR’s life was not any different. The author was also involved with the underworld of the great Indian city. GDR even reached out to the mafia men he got acquainted with during his time in Bombay before writing the source novel of the show. They granted him permission to write about them with their identities “well hidden.”
Lin’s imprisonment at Arthur Road Prison also has roots in the real life of GDR. “I did spend four months in an Indian prison named Arthur Road in Bombay. If anyone’s around from the 1980s who had experience in Arthur Road, they will know that prison, as depicted in the book, is real,” GDR shared in June 2022. Ultimately, “Shantaram” is none other than GDR himself. “The people in a village near Mumbai gave me the name Shantaram,” he added in the Rediff interview.
Where is Lin Now?
Gregory David Roberts was finally captured in 1990 in Frankfurt, Germany, and was extradited to an Australian prison after 19 months in solitary confinement. He started to write ‘Shantaram’ while he was in prison. The novel was published in 2003 and it became a sensation. Soon after it became a bestseller, Johnny Depp convinced Warner Bros. Pictures to option the book’s movie rights. Although the movie didn’t materialize, GDR used a part of the proceedings to help slum-dwellers by paying for life-saving operations and other treatments.
Bombay, which was later renamed Mumbai, became a constant part of GDR’s life. He returned to the city and its slums several times with and without the press following him. He is involved with several organizations and foundations that serve the needy and underprivileged in India. In 2006, he married Francoise Sturdza, the founder of the Heart for India Foundation. As per reports, the couple eventually separated. In 2015, the author published ‘The Mountain Shadow,’ a standalone sequel to ‘Shantaram.’ Apart from writing, GDR spends his time creating music, a journey that started with the release of his debut single “Drive All Night” in September 2020.
The single was followed by GDR’s debut album ‘Love and Faith,’ which was released in December 2020. GDR is currently in Jamaica, where he recorded his latest and seventh album ‘Serenissima.’ In February 2022, he published a non-fiction book titled ‘The Spiritual Path,’ in which he discusses his insights about “science, belief, faith, and devotion.”
Read More: Where is Apple TV+’s Shantaram Filmed?