THE WHITE TIGER REVIEW
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Starring: Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao, Adarsh Gourav
Written by: Aravind Adiga (book), Ramin Bahrani (screenplay)
Streaming On: Netflix
THE WHITE TIGER is a film adaptation of a book of the same name written by Aravind Adiga. The story bounces between the 2000s, 2007, and 2010. It follows the story of the protagonist Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav, and played as a child by Harshit Mahawar). Narration, similar to how it is in the books, Balram tells his story as part of a letter written to the (now-former) Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is visiting India. He grew up in the rural town Laxmangarh, where his grandmother dictated every move. He had to stop his studies to help out at home, and work at the family tea shop. His father passed away because of tuberculosis and his brother had been forced into an arranged marriage. He looks for a way out of his sad state of life and finds an out when Balram overhears that the village’s Godfather-style landlord, nicknamed the Stork (Mahesh Manjrekar), is looking for a second driver for his returned-from-America son Ashok (Rajkummar Rao); and Balram decides that job is going to be his. He secures the job and how this shapes up his future and makes him what he is forms the rest of the film.
First and foremost, the film does full justice to the original source material the book. Comparisons to this film can be drawn with last year’s Oscar winning film PARASITE, one can argue that the plots of both the films are drastically different, but the important fact here would be that the idea stems from a similar, if not the same place, and one could see some huge parallels. The story is very relatable as well and some fine actors have brought this one to life. It is both gripping and entertaining. There are some flaws, but you overlook them because you are completely immersed into the world of Balram. The one big thing that works against the film big time is that it has fallen into the stereotypical rich oppressing poor trap, although it is the film’s requirement but maybe there could have been a better way to portray it. This is the only way it differs from Parasite as THE WHITE TIGER takes the Slumdog Millionaire route and that could have been avoided.
Technically, the film is superb. Cinematography by Paolo Carnera has been fantastic. Manages to capture the mood of the film very well. Editing by Tim Streeto and Ramin Bahrani is good. The production design and the costume design are realistic and authentic. The makers couldn’t go wrong with the writing and it’s one of the best things about the film, despite it being flawed. There is no scope for music in the film.
The film boasts of some strong performances as well. Adarsh Gourav steals the show. It helps if the story is centered around the character you are portraying but he has put in a massive shift. He is by far the best thing about the film. Priyanka Chopra Jonas gives us her best performance in a good while. Rajkummar Rao is in good form again and he gives another commendable performance in the film. The rest of the cast offer good support.
Director Ramin Bahrani executes this film brilliantly and gets some wonderful performances from his actors, especially Adarsh Gourav. Although, his treatment here could have been different from some films we have seen previously.