The White Tiger serves as ‘once-in-a-generation’ phenomenon


Oscar Nominee, “The White Tiger,” Ramin Bahrani’s new film, which is itself a blend of disparate elements. Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s Booker Prize-winning novel, the movie is part satire and part melodrama, a crime-tinged, rags-to-riches parable that uses the story of Balram’s improbable rise to indict the iniquities of the society that created him.

The title of the movie suggests a different metaphor, one that Balram clings to through years of suffering and privation. A white tiger is a rare once-in-a-generation phenomenon. The idea is that in a country defined by rigid inequality, a self-made man is that kind of beast.

Growing up in a country where people are accustomed to suffering, Balram compared the ethics of his people to the lifestyle of hens, who are caught in the rooster coop, these hens can see and smell the blood of their neighbors being chopped off by their masters, yet they sit there without trying to get out of the coop. 

For a film dealing with heavy-duty themes of corruption, caste, globalization, and entrepreneurship, The White Tiger is engaging and moves quickly. The cast and writing (Do we loathe our masters behind a facade of love, or do we love them behind a facade of loathing?”) are excellent Balram played by Adarsh Gourav, is a revelation in his first lead role, switching from canny to caring, hurt to anger, and despair to optimism in the blink of an eye. Manjrekar brings all his slimy evil as the wicked patriarch and Swaroop Sampat is all velvet steel as the soft-spoken, foul-mouthed politician.

Ashok and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) seem different from the rest of the family (Ashok broke caste custom to marry Pinky; Pinky asks Balram what he wants to do with his life), but how much of that compassion is meant to make themselves feel better? When they treat Balram like he’s from a different world, when they praise him for knowing the “real India,” when they take at face value his farcical stories about rural religious customs —  Aren’t they just as condescending as the rest of Ashok’s family? When they ask Balram to dress up like the stereotypical image of a British maharaja for Pinky’s birthday:  Aren’t they essentially mocking him for being willing to take their mockery?Rotten Tomatoes rated the white Tiger as 92 percent Tomatometer, while it bagged 80 percent from the audience score. One of the audience contributed that Just brilliant, brings Bollywood to a wider audience. Great captivating story and even better acting and directing, this movie hooks you in from the first minutes right to the end, and that is rare these days. so many nominations IMHO it should have won all the awards.”