Ramin Bahrani’s latest feature premiered on Netflix to international acclaim. The White Tiger tells the story of one man’s ascendancy to success from his humble beginnings. Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name with the script written by Bahrani, The White Tiger is an intricate character study that shows the contrast between two worlds and how the two collide. Set against a backdrop where those from poorer backgrounds are led to believe they can achieve greatness without actually receiving the appropriate funds to do so, Balram uses his intuition and determination to rise above his station by getting himself hired as a driver for an extremely wealthy and influential family.
Bahrani’s direction is stunning and perfectly captures the conflict between the two worlds that Balram is exposed to. As Balram becomes accustomed to the way the rich live, he begins to see the corruption that helps to keep them at the top and how this seeps into the government as well. Through his writing, Bahrani forces the audience to read between the lines and look at Balram’s experience as the experience of India on the whole. Even the enveloping narrative structure of the film where Balram recalls his life through an email to the Chinese Premier in itself is an act of the protagonist’s aim of furthering himself both financially and economically.
Adarsh Gourav’s performance as protagonist, Balram, is captivating and hugely impressive for his first leading performance. With the weight of the film resting firmly on his shoulders, Gourav brings Balram to life perfectly combining his determination and ruthlessness to deliver a performance that is truly magnetic. Acting among huge Indian stars, Gourav holds his own and establishes himself as a star in the making. As Balram delves deeper into the world of the rich, his sanity and stability start to become compromised and Gourav really excels during the second half of the film as this happens. It’ll be excited to see where Gourav’s career takes him, especially considering how well he has done in his first leading role. The White Tiger has secured his position as one to watch.
In support we have Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Balram’s boss, Ashok and Ashok’s wife, Pinky. Ashok is such a fascinating and layered character as he has returned from America and is more liberal and lenient in his approach towards the people who work for him and his family, quickly striking up a friendship with Balram. However, when it comes to mistreatment, he stays quiet as he is indoctrinated by the traditions set out for him. His wife Pinky, Indian born and raised in America is perplexed and disgusted by the mistreatment of Balram at the hands of Ashok’s brother and father. Unapologetically outspoken, Pinky is like Balram as she is an outcast as well and refuses to fulfil the silent, obeying wife that is expected of her. Both Rao and Chopra Jonas are perfectly cast in their roles bringing a sense of unpredictability and fun to the film, especially during middle portion as their relationship with Balram grows.
Overall, The White Tiger is a gripping film filled with unpredictability and keeps your attention thanks to its brilliant character and beautiful aesthetic. With a stellar cast and stunning direction, this is a fantastic film that should be praised for its incredible script and flawless cinematography. This drama is sure to have you gripped from the first scene as the film descends into the chaotic events without feeling clunky or out of place. It’s been left out of the Golden Globe nominations but it would be great to see this film receive Academy Award recognition for its script and cinematography which is where this film really shines.
What did you think of The White Tiger? Let me know in the comments below!
The White Tiger is available to watch on Netflix now!