/News 20.09.22


The tale of Shantaram follows Lin Ford (Charlie Hunnam) as he weaves through the colourful slums of India and the upper echelons of Bombay’s criminal underworld in his search for purpose and redemption. The series is currently available to watch on Apple TV+ and is bound to get your heart and adrenaline pumping.

Based on the international best-selling novel by Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram follows fugitive Lin Ford looking to get lost in the vibrant and chaotic 1980s Bombay. Alone in an unfamiliar city, Lin struggles to avoid the trouble he’s running from in this new place. After falling for an enigmatic and intriguing woman named Karla, Lin must choose between freedom or love and the complications that come with it.

Co-created, written and executive produced by Steve Lightfoot, who also serves as showrunner. Bharat Nalluri directs and executive produces the series. Andrea Barron, Nicole Clemens, Steve Golin, Justin Kurzel, also executive produce along with Eric Warren Singer, who co-created the series. Shantaram is produced by Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios.


The 12-episode Apple TV+ drama series, produced by Paramount Television Studios, was filmed over 120 days at Docklands Studios Melbourne, and at more than 20 locations across Melbourne, with support through the Australian Government’s Location Offset and Incentive Program and the Victorian Screen Incentive.



Bringing the international best-seller Shantaram to the screen has been as epic as the story itself, and Melbourne, Victoria – where the novel begins – stepped into the spotlight.

Shantaram stars Charlie Hunnam as Lin Ford, a convicted Australian bank robber who escapes Melbourne’s notorious Pentridge Prison and flees to India.

When the production was scouting locations in 2018, VicScreen showed that Melbourne could not only deliver what they needed for the Melbourne scenes, but the city’s varied looks meant they could film many of the scenes in the streets, slums and bars of Bombay there too.

“Ultimately the producers couldn’t pass up Melbourne and all it has to offer: highly skilled and experienced HODs, crew and screen businesses, world-class sound stages located minutes from downtown, and accessible and versatile locations. Melbourne’s Indian community – the largest in Australia – also played a key role, with hundreds of extras employed on the series.”

Joe Brinkmann, Head of Incentives & Production Support, VicScreen

Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison formed the key prison location in Shantaram. The prison closed in 1997, however, the 19th-century building remains intact.

Pentridge Prison. Image Visit Victoria
Charlie Hunnam as Lin in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The production also filmed in the cells at the Old Melbourne Gaol, which doubled for interrogation rooms. The neighbouring Old Magistrates’ Court and Old City Watch House were used for the Australian courtroom and for police stations in Australia and Bombay.

Shacks were built on a beach in the seaside suburb of Altona for the filming of key scenes in the Bombay slums.

Antonia Desplat as Karla and Charlie Hunnam as Lin in Shantaram. © Apple TV+
Altona Beach. Photo Julian Bungate

Melbourne’s iconic Hotel Windsor stood in for a luxury Indian hotel and the production filmed extensively in the hotel’s lobby, staircases, hallways and suites over three days, with the side exteriors also doubling for Bombay streets.

Above, L & R images: Hotel Windsor, Melbourne. Photo Dan Beck 
Shubham Saraf as Prabhu in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

Continue Vicscreen’s Shantaram location walkthrough here…


Contact Joe Brinkmann
Head of Incentives & Production Support, VicScreen

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Docklands Studios Melbourne was the perfect setting to bring the gritty, vibrant scenes of Shantaram to life on screen.

Production moved into Docklands Studios from 2020 through 2021, with the series occupying stages 1- 4 along with additional scenes filmed in the surrounding suburbs of Melbourne.

Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The world-class studio facilities at Docklands set the stage for a number of key sets, including Karla’s Bombay Apartment, Khader Khan’s House and The Palace brothel.

BTS at Docklands studios on Shantaram. © Apple TV+

Series Director and Executive Producer Bharat Nalluri praises Melbourne and Docklands as a world-class production destination. Nalluri expressed his appreciation for the lifestyle both on and off set, and the crew’s positive response to working in such a film-friendly city as contributing factors to the immense production value he experienced during his time in production.

Shantaram. © Apple TV+

“It was a real pleasure working down in Melbourne at Docklands Studios. It’s a fabulous site, it’s in the middle of the city, it was kind of perfect for what we needed. We were a very big production, and it required quite a sophisticated setup for it to work for us.
It’s a first-rate facility.”

Bharat Nalluri, Shantaram Director and Executive Producer

Docklands’ convenient city-central location, well-structured layout, facilities and crew have been a winning combination in the successful completion of this large-scale and complex production.

Shantaram. © Apple TV+

“It was all very straightforward; I think because of the compactness of it. I mean, it’s quite a large studio and kind of belies the fact that there’s a lot of studios there, but I think the way it’s been laid out, allows you to get around very easily.”

Bharat Nalluri, Shantaram Director and Executive Producer

“It was a lovely lifestyle on a very hectic and huge production. (Docklands) lends itself to these long productions really well.”

Nalluri’s experience on Shantaram has seen him recommending Docklands Studios and Melbourne broadly to his industry cohort, stating that every producer should put the location at the top of their list.

Nalluri states, “I want to move to Melbourne now having spent six or seven months there on this production, it’s a fabulous city. The actors loved it, all the crew that were flown in loved it. It’s a very walkable city, and the amazing thing is that the studio is right in the middle of it. So, whether it’s public transport, drive, walk, or bicycle it’s really, really well-positioned as a studio.”

BTS at Docklands studios on Shantaram. © Apple TV+

“We didn’t lose much time getting actors back and forth to their accommodation, which kept the actors really happy because they weren’t turning up hours early to beat traffic or to get their hair and makeup done. So all-in-all Melbourne is a great city to be based in for any production. I don’t really want to tell anyone, because I want to keep it my secret, but I feel the secret is out already. But I’m really looking forward to going back there” Nalluri concludes.

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As the sole provider of all cyber scanning services on the production of Shantaram, Avatar Factory successfully completed all production scanning requirements, including hundreds of extras needed to replicate massive crowd scenes.

Antonia Desplat as Karla and Shubham Saraf as Prabhu in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The family-run Avatar Factory team operate a fully mobile cyber scanning rig, offering 170 cross-polarised cameras and an industrial strength 33ka generator.

Shubham Saraf as Prabhu and Charlie Hunnam as Lin in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The Avatar Factory facilitated production requirements of full mobility services and independent power.

During production, Avatar Factory were fully flexible by setting up their truck at Docklands Studios or on location in as little as one hour. This was incredibly beneficial as a number of productions were taking place simultaneously at DSM, so setting up a traditional rig would not have been possible. Avatar maintained its capacity to be nimble whilst producing unimpeded and high-calibre work. Being independent of power, with their 33ka generator also meant they did not rely on any power from the stages and were able to set up in Docklands’ car park and other locations.

Avatar Factory at Docklands Studios Melbourne
Avatar Factory at Victoria Rail Yards

Pictured is the Avatar Factory truck set up opposite Sound Stage 4 and on location at the Victoria Rail Yards.

Avatar’s credits include Mortal Kombat, Elvis, God’s Favorite Idiot and La Brea along with some exciting yet-to-be-released projects.

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It’s always rewarding to work on familiar projects, as was the case for Blackbird and their contribution of undetectable visual effects on Shantaram.

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

The well-known and much-loved novel set a wonderful preface for the Blackbird team to bring early 1980s India to life through their passion, attention to detail and resourcefulness. Blackbird’s intention from the onset was to fully immerse the audience, to drench them in the sweat, hustle, and tension of the moment. The results of the seamlessly integrated visual effects components speak for themselves.

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

Much of Blackbird’s work involved delivering completely invisible visual effects. These were often stitched, stolen, and hacked together from footage shot years apart and on completely different continents. 

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

Social distancing regulations during filming periods meant the Blackbird team rose to the challenge of finding ways to recreate the bustling Indian streetscapes from a handful of disparate plates. Once solutions were established, Blackbird worked to de-modernise scenes fitting the period and location of the story. They were able to match to the beautifully shot foreground elements and were thankful for the collaborative support of the visual effects production team based out of LA. The creative collaboration produced remarkable, yet untraceable results which made these challenges all the more manageable and enjoyable during the process. 

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+
Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

Throughout the project, Blackbird created full CG Streets with digital cars, panoramic-stitched projection environments, CG augmentations, gunshots, bullet wounds, bullet holes in cars and shattered windows. The Blackbird team filled cinemas with crowds that never existed, and even recreated a cinema that wasn’t there. This was all done across nearly 200 shots and five episodes, including one of the climactic fight scenes in the finale.

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+
Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

Ultimately, Blackbird’s hope is that no one actually notices their work, that it blends in seamlessly, and that the audience will freely immerse themselves with Lin in the seedy underworld of 1980s Bombay.

Shantaram image courtesy of Blackbird. © Apple TV+

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The production finance specialists at Entertainment Partners Powered by Moneypenny provided valuable assistance to the production by navigating the state and federal tax credit and incentives, with the aim of maximizing financial returns.

Charlie Hunnam, Antonia Desplat and Vincent Perez in Shantaram, now streaming on Apple TV+

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Panavision Melbourne proudly supported Shantaram with specialised camera and lenses.

Cinematographer Stefan Duscio ACS chose to lens the show with Panavision 65mm Ultra Panatar 1.3x Anamorphics combined with Alexa Mini LF.

Antonia Desplat as Karla in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

“The unique 1.3x squeeze of the Ultra Panatars was a perfect fit. I’d seen the beautiful work that Adam Arkapaw had done with them on The King, and adored their classic look. I’d shot a lot with Panavision 2x anamorphic range (such as C, E, G series) and this felt like a slightly more modern version of those, with a bit more image resolution. I fell in love with their unique and ambiguous look – not quite spherical and not quite anamorphic – something special and inbetween.”

Stefan Duscio, Cinematographer ACS
Shubam Saraf as Prabhu in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The series was filmed over an extensive period taking pre-production and production for the entirety of 2021. Panavision were able to provide expert assistance and support for any technical and equipment needs.

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With 37 years’ experience, post-production is second nature to the Soundfirm team. They provided dailies, colour and processing, VFX pulls and remote/streamed grading sessions during the production of Shantaram.

Charlie Hunnam as Lin and Shubam Saraf as Prabhu in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

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Organising travel and logistics has never required more skill and precision than in recent years. Stage and Screen’s capacity to keep production moving has been a testament to their passion, professionalism and aptitude for what they do best. 

Charlie Hunnam as Lin Ford in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

The travel experts at Stage and Screen carefully and successfully navigated the Shantaram production through challenging global travel conditions. The team negotiated travel for over 100 cast and crew in and out of Australia over the span of two and a half years, and secured long-term crew accommodation amidst a time of challenging pandemic-related hurdles. Stage and Screen’s holding power has been adaptable and impressive.

With Stage and Screen’s travel manager dedicated to Shantaram for the duration of production, the team was able to pull off some miracles. Drawing on their extensive film production experience, robust contingency planning and strong supplier relationships, the team pulled out all stops to help keep the production on track.

Stage and Screen booked travel for the cast and crew from all over the world into Australia, in 2019 production moved to India, returned to Australia, and on to Thailand. It’s no surprise the Stage and Screen team were on a first-name basis with numerous government departments like VicScreen.

Elham Ehsas as Modena and Elektra Kilbey as Lisa in Shantaram. © Apple TV+
Flights for roughly 120 cast and crew into Melbourne, on to Bhopal, India and back to Australia
Long-term accommodation for crew in Melbourne
Private homes for cast in Melbourne
Travel from Australia and other countries around the world, including Bangkok, Thailand
VIP travel for all lead actors, directors, executive producers and Paramount executives

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The talented team at Trackdown completed ADR (Additional Dialogue Replacement) utilising Source Connect technology and Zoom for Shantaram.

Charlie Hunnam as Lin and Antonia Desplat as Karla in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

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XM2 carried out all aerial cinematography along with visual effects data capture on Shantaram.

Working with DPs Stefan Duscio and Bob Humphreys, XM2 carried an ARRI Alexa Mini LF with Panavision lenses on their custom-built Tango drone to capture the action around shooting locations in Melbourne. 

Antonia Desplat as Karla and Fayssal Bazzi as Abdullah in Shantaram. © Apple TV+

XM2 captured LIDAR and photogrammetry of Pentridge Prison in order to assist the VFX department in their digital build of the site. Both the drone cinematography and LIDAR photogrammetry were carried out on the same day, working on the Main Unit shooting to capture the required data.

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