Something isn’t quite right in India. Something that can’t be fixed by winning a few millions in a game show or having a jolly dance off at the end of a movie. ‘The White Tiger’ sets out to analyse the caste system and doesn’t pussyfoot around the issue.
Balram (Adarsh Gourav) is our narrator. Growing up in a poor neighbourhood, his scholastic potential is squandered because he has to help the family out and earn some extra money. He witnesses his father die of tuberculosis without anyone so much as looking sideways and figures out he needs to escape his dire fate. He works his way up as a driver for Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky Madam (Priyanka Chopra). Two masters he serves with pleasure as both of them treat him with more kindness than he has ever known. But when an accident disrupts their lives, he quickly learns how meaningless his existence is to them.
Ramin Bahrani’s movie doesn’t shy away from hard commentary. The troublesome hygiene of the country, the oppressive caste system and everything foul that flows from it, the rampant corruption … it’s all in there. But somehow it never becomes too much because Bahrani keeps things moving with style and an enjoyable nasty streak. Even Balram, who is supposed to be our moral compass through all of it, eventually slides over to the dark side. And understandably so.
Narration is always tricky and ‘The White Tiger’ does overindulge in it. It would’ve been great if some subtleties had been left to be interpreted by the audience. The visuals and the performances are certainly strong enough to stand on their own. Other than that ‘The White Tiger’ is a captivating rags to corrupt riches story that takes you on a fast and furious ride.
THE WHITE TIGER is now streaming on Netflix
Review – ‘The White Tiger’
Reviewed on Netflix, February 3, 2021. Rating: MA15+. Running time: 125 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of an ARRAY Filmworks, Lava Media, Netflix, Noruz Films production. Producers: Ramin Bahrani (p.g.a.), Mukul Deora. Executive producers: Prem Akkaraju, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Ava DuVernay, Ken Kamins, Sarah Bremner, Paul Ritchie.
CREW: Director/screenplay: Ramin Bahrani (based on the book by Aravind Adiga). Cinematography: Paolo Carnera. Editing: Ramin Bahrani, Tim Streeto. Score: Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans.
CAST: Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Vedant Sinha, Kamlesh Gill, Satish Kumar.