Shantaram & 9 Other Great TV Shows & Movies Set In India | Pretty Reel

Years after the Sons Of Anarchy finale, Charlie Hunnam is back on the small screen, thanks to the Apple+ series, Shantaram. This time it’s about an escaped Australian convict looking to start a new life in Bombay, India. However, staying out of trouble turns out to be more difficult than he had anticipated.

For years, India has been a go-to filming location for film and television directors. But while most filmmakers prefer to use the country for only a few scenes, others have chosen to keep most of the proceedings there.

Octopus (1983)

Stream to Amazon Prime Video

Eager to learn more about him, MI6 agent James Bond follows an exiled Afghan prince to India in Roger Moore’s sixth outing as the character, Octopussy. There he meets and falls in love with a wealthy businesswoman who leads a cult of female mercenaries.

In most Bond films, 007 normally hops from one corner of the world to another, and if he has to stay in one place for long, it’s always his home, Britain. Here, Bond can hang out in a geographical location for a longer period of time, and as such, viewers are treated to everything about India, from culture to beautiful landscapes. Comedy is also a big part of the procedural, making Octopussy one of the most entertaining spy movies. And even if the script isn’t the strongest, the presence of one of the most iconic Bond girls makes the film a classic.

The Serpent (2021)

Stream on Netflix

Based on a true story, The Serpent follows fraudster Charles Sobhraj as he gets rich by drugging, stealing and killing people. Soon, a Dutch diplomat begins to investigate his activities.

While Sobhraj has traveled all over the world, the show travels to many places, but also features India heavily. The criminal at the heart of the series commits some of the most unthinkable crimes, but the miniseries isn’t just a project meant to glorify crime. For the most part, he’s not afraid to criticize Indian celebrity culture. Through characters such as policemen and diplomats, he questions why Sobhraj is idolized by some, despite the many crimes he has committed.

The Best Exotic Hotel Marigold (2011)

Stream to Amazon Prime Video

In The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a retired British couple move to Jaipur, India to live in the titular establishment in Jaipur, India. Upon arriving, they realize that the hotel is not nearly as good as advertised.

Great actors make great movies and aside from a satisfyingly unfolding plot, audiences are impressed with the incredible performances of veteran actors Judi Dench, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith. And the woes of retirees elicit no pity as every little misfortune is sweetened with a comedic moment.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

Stream on Paramount+

After falling into a river while on the run from a Shanghai crime boss, Indiana Jones finds herself in India in The Temple Of Doom. There he helps the villagers find a relic that has been acquired by an evil priest.

It’s the dumbest of the Indiana Jones films, but that only makes it more fun. The audience rarely gets a chance to catch their breath, as one action or chase sequence simply follows one after the other. The titular character’s chemistry with Indian characters is also strong, which is why Hollywood should never shy away from choosing different continents as settings.

Manhunters (2005)

Stream on BBC iPlayer

BBC drama Manhunters tells the story of Rudraprayag’s famous man-eating leopard. The events are based on the memoirs of those who tried to stop the animals.

Manhunters is an exciting ride as it contains all the ingredients used in some of the best animal attack movies. From highly elusive predators to improvisation, there are several things that make it recommendable. And even though the events are based on true stories, creative liberties are taken to ensure there are no dull moments.

Lion (2016)

Stream to Amazon Prime Video

A 5-year-old boy is separated from his family after being adopted by an Australian couple. More than two decades later, he returns to India in search of his family.

Lion shamelessly rides on its emotional weight, thanks to the inclusion of plenty of scenes capable of bringing tears to the audience. The visuals are also stunning, with India mostly described as a paradise. All of this makes the boy’s decision to return home even more justified. And the fact that it received 6 Oscar nominations, including a “Best Actress” for Kidman, erases any doubts a potential viewer would have.

A Passage to India (1984)

Stream to Amazon Prime Video

In A Passage To India, things are quiet in the fictional town of Chandrapore, until a newcomer brings an accusation of rape against an Indian. The city is then divided between the British elite and the locals.

As the person who made Lawrence of Arabia, one of the longest-running films of all time, director David Lean doesn’t struggle with the task here. Events unfold tensely against beautiful Indian backdrops. And while this is happening, the themes of religion, racism and imperialism are examined. Peggy Ashcroft also gives a powerful performance, making her one of the most deserving Oscar winners in history.

Million Dollar Arm (2014)

Stream on Disney+

American sports agent JB Bernstein creates a company to revolutionize baseball. And in an attempt to find new talent, he heads to India.

India is known for producing some of the best talent in baseball, but it’s something that has rarely been touched upon in some of the best sports films. Million Dollar Arm sets itself apart by recognizing the contributions of other countries to some of America’s most popular sports. And Jon Hamm, along with his cast mates, give performances of a lifetime.

Bride and Prejudice (2004)

Stream on Pluto TV

During a wedding, a young Indian falls in love with an American investor. If the title, Bride and Prejudice, wasn’t revealing enough, the story is adapted from the novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

For those tired of Western romantic comedies, Bride And Prejudice is a perfect alternative. Besides love and laughter, he vividly addresses cultural differences. There’s hardly a dull moment either. From group dances to elephant rides, there are plenty of scenes meant to make the viewer remember the film.

Chantaram (2022)

Stream on Apple+

In Shantaram, based on the novel of the same name, an Australian bank robber breaks out of prison and flees to India to start a new life. There, new complications appear.

As this is still an ongoing series, any conclusion on Shantaram at this point would be premature. However, early episodes carefully tackled the issues of corrupt law enforcement and unchecked crime. Charlie Hunnam also brings his Jax Teller charm and while fans are unlikely to see another Sons Of Anarchy, they can be assured of plenty of entertainment here.

Shantaram & 9 Other Great TV Shows & Movies Set In India | Pretty Reel