Apple TV+’s drama series ‘Shantaram’ revolves around Dale, an Australian robber who ends up in the city of Bombay, India, after escaping from his prison. Dale assumes the false identity of Lindsay Ford AKA Lin after arriving in Bombay and befriends a local guide named Prabhu. He also encounters several foreigners in exile, who try their best to find a footing in the great Indian city ruled by underworld dons and mafia lords. As the series progresses, Lin’s experiences in Bombay change him as a person. But what exactly is “Shantaram?” If you are wondering the same, let us decode the title for you! SPOILERS AHEAD.
‘Shantaram’ is a series adaptation of Gregory David Roberts’ eponymous novel. In the novel, “Shantaram” is a name given to Lin by the mother of Prabhaker (the novel version of the character Prabhu). After meeting Lin, Prabhaker’s mother starts to think he should have an Indian name and starts to call him “Shantaram,” which translates to “man of God’s peace.” Prabhaker’s mother gives him the name by judging Lin’s character to be blessed with “peaceful happiness,” which plays an integral part in Lin’s time in Bombay.
When Lin was in Australia, he was a troubled youth who has never known the essence of peace. He immersed himself in drugs and crimes. He took guns to rob banks and prison became his home when he got arrested. Even after escaping from prison, Dale, who hasn’t yet become Lin, doesn’t attain peace right away. His constant fear that he will get captured comes between him and the peaceful happiness he later conquers. However, Bombay changes him as a person and provides him with a shelter of peacefulness. Lin becomes a resident of Sagar Wada, where people look after each other, rather than a fugitive on the run.
For the first time in a long while, Lin experiences a sense of belonging that helps him rest. After becoming the designated doctor of the slum, Lin realizes that he is living among people who admire and care about him. Rather than a criminal, he becomes a man whose life has earned a new and profound meaning and relevance. The realization helps him attain peace, which even makes him continue living in Bombay despite garnering money to leave the city from Karla Saaranen. Lin perceives that he can experience peace as long as he is in Sagar Wada and he is just another fugitive on the run if he leaves the same.
This attainment of peace while living in Sagar Wada changes Lin as a person. He realizes that he is much more than a criminal, which helps him shed his past like a snake sheds its skin. Lin has attained enlightenment, peace, happiness, and more than everything, a new life. “Shantaram” is the name that defines such a rebirth. By becoming Shantaram, he is unbecoming the criminal that is Dale, and the scared fugitive that is Lin. “Shantaram” marks the start of a new chapter of his life as he transforms himself from a random robber to an enlightened being.
The origin of the title “Shantaram” lies in the experiences of Gregory David Roberts AKA GDR, the author of the source novel. Like Lin, GDR had spent a considerable time in Bombay after escaping from prison, running an illegal clinic to serve the community which offered him a sense of belonging. “The people in a village near Mumbai gave me the name Shantaram,” GDR told Rediff.
Read More: Is Shantaram Based on a True Story?