Master and Commander director Peter Weir is disembarking from what was supposed to be his next project, Warner Brothers' Shantaram. His reasons for leaving are anyone's guess. Some say a rift between Weir and Johnny Depp (who was producing and starring in the film) caused the break, but Warner Brothers tells Variety that his interpretation of the film differed from that of the studios. Weir has yet to comment.

So what the hell is Shantaram besides just a funny name? The script is based on the true life story of author Gregory David Roberts, a heroin addict who escapes from an Australian prison to India, where he reinvents himself as a doctor in the slums of Bombay. While caring for the sick, he resurrects his career as a crime kingpin for a little side cash, leading him to Afghanistan where he locks horns with the Russian mob.

Depp is supposed to play the Roberts character, renamed Lindsay for the purposes of creative retelling. With Weir off the project, it's hard to say where that leaves it. Depp is still attached as producer and star, and Warner Brothers still seems pretty keen to make it. It's unlikely that the idea will go unmade. Instead, WB will probably just have to settle for a second option to sit in the director's chair. With all the buzz Shantaram has been getting over the past few months, they shouldn't have much trouble finding a capable replacement.

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