Shantaram – Season 1 Episode 3 “Strange Bedfellows” Recap & Review

Strange Bedfellows

Despite Dale’s and other people in the slum’s best efforts, the fire ultimately isn’t able to be controlled at the start of Shantaram episode 3. Sagarwada is burning.

Once it is brought under control – just barely – Dale involves himself in the rescue process and provides medical aid to those who were injured. Qasim, someone who is seen as the leader of the people, laments the lack of money and isn’t able to arrange for professional help in attending to the injured.

The next few minutes are quite tragic for Dale, personally, and the viewers as well. We see the demise of Lakshmi right in front of us. None of the bystanders, including Dale, are able to provide the right kind of help to her. The Aussie is burdened by the incident and feels partly responsible for putting the people in this position.

We finally see how he was caught in the robbery. The police were only able to apprehend him as Charlie escaped because of Dale’s compassion in trying to help the policeman Charlie had shot. Ideally, he should have run off with him, but like with the fire, his conscience pulled him back and at least try. And that got him caught. He still didn’t take Charlie’s name and it takes a big man to be able to do that. Dale’s angelic intervention in the people’s lives continues as people queue up outside  Prabhu’s tent to seek help. Dale uses the entirety of the money Karla gave him to provide for supplies.

His integration into the community is cemented when he helps Prabhu get ahead in his bid for Paravati. Lisa comforts Karla over Rujul’s killing. She feels responsible because she wasn’t able to make the right decision. The showdown between Khaderbhai and Walid finally takes place in this episode.

The new blood asserts himself and says his better financial muscle puts him above the old gun in the pecking order. Khaderbhai is aware of Walid’s more prominent business and backs off. He instead goes to the Palace, where Zhou is told for the last time to side with Khaderbhai. He is the one who facilitates her business and can shut it down anytime.

A quite interesting revelation here is that Zhou has no idea that Khaderbhai and Karla work together. Khaderbhai manages to keep the status quo but Zhou is unfazed. She still believes she is being short-sold by Khader and continues with her nefarious ways by selling brown sugar in Kahder’s territory despite his warnings.

As expected, Khaderbhai makes his way to the Sagarwada slum to meet Dale. As he mentioned previously to Rujul, this isn’t Kahderbhai’s first visit to the area. He himself grew up in a slum and has constantly perused the area to make sure the lives of people aren’t getting affected. Dale gets into his car, reassured that he would be okay and Khaderbhai just wants to talk.

It does seem like this crime boss is indeed a man with a heart of gold. Funny thing to say that about someone who just murdered another person in the previous episode. Khader and Dale bond over each other’s inherent goodness. It is almost like their instincts attract the other without even them knowing about it. Khader even narrates an incident where he helped a poor man endure against a rich tyrant who harassed him for rent.  Khader evidently takes a liking to Lin and takes him to a club where they get high and discuss whether reality is an illusion or not, with Khader believing it is and Lin not so.

In the Indian culture, a performance of ghazal geet is seen as an evening spent richly in the comfort and harmony of sound. Although the idea of performances is dwindling, we see one in episode 3 next. Dale is so moved by it that he almost cries. He spots Karla too in the club, where she is taken aback seeing the two persons she wanted to keep apart together. Just as Khader did with Zhou, he feigns knowing Karla or having any association with her in front of Dale, who unwittingly introduced the business partners.  The dynamic between Karla and Lisa is at a delicate stage. The latter leaves the former’s house when she feels hard done by Karla.

It is quite possible that Karla left her alone intentionally not to get attached to her. She has distanced herself from everyone as of now, with the exception of Ahmed, whose name came up in episode 1.

Maybe that incident changed her to have a different worldview altogether. The ending of the episode is a bit strange. Ravi, Lakshmi’s son, confronts Dale for being unable to save her. He is devastated by her loss and cannot see clearly the ramifications of what he is about to do next. Dale accepts the mistake and apologizes.

Before the situation can get out of hand, Wasim intervenes and allows Dale to stay in Lakmshi’s tent. Additionally, he decides to adopt Ravi so that he can feel at home again. But interestingly, Qasim tells that Dale has been given the place to keep helping others and present himself to those in need when the situation comes.

The Episode Review

You’d probably think that Dale would be butchered after what he did. It was indeed his mistake, indirect as the case may be, that so many people lost their lives and their only tangible means of housing. But in the spirit of the wonderful culture, the story is based on, he is forgiven. For that is the hallmark of our people.

Shantaram, the novel, features many such occasions when the people came together to protect those that looked different than them. It is indeed heartening to see the kindness and compassion brought to the screen with a deftness and sensibility often lost in foreign representations. Writers have continued to allow Dale to redeem himself in the eyes of the viewers.

Even though he hadn’t done too much wrong, except in the last episode with the fire, it is nice to have a clean, morally upright protagonist not looking to take the nefarious way out. It is said in Indian culture that the more good you do, the more your karma builds up. That is what is happening with Dale.

Things are looking better for him. But the rivalry between Khaderbhai and Walid is just beginning to pick up. It will probably dictate the terms going forward, however, the writers must endeavour to sustain character development that has been good till now.

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