Like in the Time of Cholera
Episode 8 of Shantaram starts with a flashback, as we see how Dale met Gemma. He was stationed at a university protest where he was a Philosophy undergrad student. Gemma was into drugs and after the protest got violent, Dale and she took shelter inside the ambulance. That is how Dale got into the heroin addiction.
He has this memory of the meeting and how Gemma left him when he got caught and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He even confides in her that he did the robbery for her but she bids him a “final goodbye”. In the present day, Lin has in fact contracted cholera. He does not know it yet but Karla is taking care of him.
Sunita tries to run but her attempt is unsuccessful. Zhou has her under even heavier security now. Karla tells Lin about Ahmed. He was a friend of his and Zhou got someone to throw acid on his girlfriend Christina’s face. That is when things got heated and he was unfortunately killed in lieu of revenge. Lin admits his love for Karla and it seems like she reciprocates his feelings too. But her decision to stay away from her feelings sees her tell Lin to leave Bombay as soon as he can.
Prabhu finally gets Nandiat’s go-ahead to court Parvati and he is over the moon. The same morning, Lin wakes up and comes out of his hut for the first time in three days. Prabhu greets him and tells him the good news, to which Lin replies that he “needs to do a bowel movement”. The entire community is excited to see Lin back to health, except for Ravi, who overheard Lin accepting that he started the fire and killed Lakshmi. Ravi tells this to Prabhu who is shocked but lies to Ravi about Lin being with him when the fire started.
To stray a bit off point, how frustrating it is every time Lin blames himself for everything which clearly is not his mistake? Very, is the answer. Can he not just once explain a bit more that he is always caught at a bad time? Shows such a weak character honestly. Anyway, Lin’s decision in the last episode has repercussions. Rafiq comes with his henchmen and bottles of water and warns the community of no more deals with Khader. They start breaking the bottles and when the community resists, they beat them up.
Lin blames himself (again) for this and tries to correct the “mistake”. Karla meets with Sunita in the Palace and Zhou eavesdrops secretly. Karla wants Sunita to call Pandey to come to the Palace and she will be free to go and her debt will also be considered paid. But Sunita is stout in her decision not to comply and says that her love for Pandey is stronger than everything. She tells Karla about her own ordeal. Zhou was left in India by a KGB spy and his enemies went after her.
She suffered a lot at their hands but quickly carved her way out. The only way she could survive was because of the hatred she had for the spy. “The only thing stronger than love for someone is the hatred in its absence after it has left”, she says. To break down Sunita, Karla must take that love away. Prabhu confronts Lin about the fire and he comes clean. But Prabhu makes him see what we see from here – all of Lin”s actions are not readily detrimental to everything that has happened. He is indirectly apt of it but not solely responsible for things the way they are.
Modena faces ridicule at the hands of Raheem and his men when he comes to collect the money. He talks cheaply about Lisa and Modena is forced to vent his anger on Lisa. Maurizio suggests that they sell the remaining drugs at a discount and take the money and run. If they stay, Zhou and Khader will have their necks. And so they begin. Lin goes to Khaderbhai after considering Qasim’s appeal. Khader tells him about his plans to buy Sagarwada and lin feels cheated. But he understands that Khader is not vile at heart and instead takes him to Qasim.
From now on in, he will no longer be the middleman and deal directly with Qasim. Khader tells about his plans to Qasim and is honest about demolishing their homes. But he also promises to help the community get out of its circumstances and do good with their lives. Qasim seems to be agreeable but we do not have a clear answer. To counter Rafiq’s henchmen, Qasim leads a charge the next day with Abdullah and other Sagarwada people and successfully pushes him back. The water and the day are theirs and they rejoice with celebrations.
Abdulah spotted Ravit trying to hit Lin but dissuade him from harming him any further. Abdullah will take Ravi on as a soldier, but he must learn and train more. Lin is satisfied with making the right choice but realizes that he still needs to run, as we also saw in this episode that Nishant has brought boxes of Red Notices from Interpol to Kavita to see if Lin has committed a heinous crime or not.
The Episode Review
One of Lin’s biggest strengths is also his biggest weakness. And that is very annoying when watching these episodes. His lack of communication with others around him often leads them to believe something else. He always manages to take the blame on himself for everything, even when he did not do anything wrong.
That observation aside, episode 8 was about underlining the unity and togetherness of the people of Sagarwada fighting a disease that by right ought to be fought by the government. The most remarkable part is that they do not blame the failed system. Instead, they accept the reality of their situation and rely on each other to get out of the predicament.
Even in the last episode, the makers highlighted this inherent part of Indian society where narcissist decision-makers and administrators avoid responsibility. Other major developments included Khaderbhai and Qasim’s improved relationship which could see the former actually take over the reins of the place.
It was wise in the way he told Qasim that the only choice they have is choosing “who” buys the place, and not “if” it will be sold. Madame Zhou’s backstory certainly pushes her character to the warmer side of our judgment line. She was being positioned as an antagonist and her little scene with Karla shows her in a new light.
For Lin, though, the road ahead seems to be very difficult. Since he does not believe in violence or killing, the only way Kavita and Nishant can be stopped is through their own volition. Or through Khaderbhai. But the latter happening is quite unlikely since Lin has kept his secret tight.