The White Tiger is a drama film directed by Ramin Bahrani and is an adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name. The movie stars Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, along with other cast members.
The film’s title, The White Tiger, works in favour when it comes to our lead protagonist Balram. We have seen rags-to-riches stories multiple times over the years. However, this movie provides a look at the poverty and caste problem with a more rebellious and cynical tone. There are wit and immediacy to The White Tiger that is often not found in movies which deal with social issues in India – a topic that is ever-growing and expanding like the problems themselves.
The White Tiger follows these issues, maybe not in-depth and not all of them, but it does follow them well. It talks about the hypocrisy of foreign-returned Indians and the double standards of society. It also looks at how the poorer section of the Indian society is put in a chicken coop, a place from where they just cannot escape due to probably their own nature.
Balram is like every other Indian common man, but not really. While everyone else seems to have given in to their lives and their fates, Balram is the freak of nature. He’s the white tiger – a being born once every few generations. He, thus, does not want to end up in the chicken coop and be a servant. He fights to get out of it. However, is it a fair fight that he fights? That question itself isn’t probably fair to ask. You see, Balram has been dealt a hand that has put him up for failure and to get out of it, he must fight dirty.
The movie also focuses on the lives of his rich “masters” and gives a peek into the unfairness with which The Mongoose and his family treat their servants. Ashok and Pinky seem different to Balram, and for a while, he does seem to like them, but the hypocrisy in Indian societies is so ever-prevalent that only a fool believes something different can come out of a situation like this. The White Tiger, sometimes subtly and sometimes loudly, tells us the ways in which the rich make sure the poor stay the way they are.
The movie’s strong points are its wit and its dialogues. Adarsh Gourav’s Balram does the voiceover and tells us and the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao his life story. The voiceover itself is absolutely lovely to hear – with a hint of cynicism and sarcasm, Gourav does an excellent job at portraying the poor guy who is trying to break free of the chicken coop that is his life.
On the other hand, Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas are amazing as Ashok and Pinky. Praising Rao’s performance is probably old at this point. He’s brilliant in every scene, and the way in which his attitude changes between being kind and an absolute a-hole is commendable. However, the person who shines the most in The White Tiger is Priyanka Chopra Jonas. She puts her all into a role which needs her to be strong yet soft, and she does so brilliantly.
Summing up: The White Tiger
The White Tiger’s concept isn’t something we haven’t seen before – infact, it sometimes feels very familiar. But the cast’s wonderful performance and the agility and force with which the narration moves forward is something to look out for. The 2-hour-long movie makes for a good entertainer, one which will definitely make you think. Additionally, Adarsh Gourav’s stare into the Pajero’s rear-view mirror with different conflicting emotions as he tries to carefully plan his next move will elicit some form of discomfort in the viewer and might just stick with you long after you’re done.
The White Tiger is streaming on Netflix.
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