Daily Recco, February 3: The White Tiger for the screen
Ramin Bahrani-directed film The White Tiger, on the eponymous Aravind Adiga novel, is a riveting tale of the proverbial underdog that broke out of the 'chicken coop'.
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There is a landlord, his son and an ambitious driver. The story of how the driver rises from being an underdog to an affluent employer in his own right forms the crux of The White Tiger (2021) by Ramin Bahrani.
The dark satirical rags-to-riches tale of modern India is based on the eponymous book by Aravind Adiga that won him the 40th Man Booker Prize. The American drama film stays mostly true to the novel. However, the parts that the director takes creative liberties in enhances the performance of his cast — Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao and the very talented Adarsh Gourav.
The novel transverses through social themes like freedom, individualism and classism, in detail through its 300-odd pages. Staying true to it (at times a little too much), Adarsh Gourav’s Balram Halwai in the movie also takes the viewers through it all in a little over two hours of the film. As Balram tries to break free from the oppressive shackles of poverty and servitude, you find yourself rooting for him despite knowing his calculative and manipulative self. Balram is forging his own destiny – bit by bit – as he is driven to break out of the cycle of poverty and realise his full potential. He is the titular “white tiger” — a “creature that gets born only once a generation”. This tiger also roars with his screen presence and how!
Bahrani does an unflinching portrait of the Indian society, that some might even find unflattering and unsavoury, given that the honest portrait includes the elements of poverty, corruption and inequality prevalent here. But there are no clichés here.
The film holds a mirror to the society that is formed on the foundations of classism, oppression and repressing by the moneyed and the affluent. Yet, it is not a moralising or a preachy account that tells you to or not to be a certain way. Watch the film on Netflix to know how those we take for granted have the power to make or break us.