#REVIEW: “THE WHITE TIGER”
By Mr. Will Wong
Based on Aravind Adiga‘s best-selling and award-winning 2008 Novel, THE WHITE TIGER gets a film adaptation under Writer/Director Ramin Bahrani (Fahrenheit 451). And fans of the Novel should be delighted by this telling of the rags-to-riches story which recalls Balram‘s (Adarsh Gourav) rise from a poverty to becoming his own master – a chicken that escapes the coop, a rare animal like the titular animal this story is named.
It all begins with Balman joining his master Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas) on an eventful night out which results in catastrophe. We then go back in time seeing his journey humbly accepting his fate as a servant to Ashok wherein often he is mistreated and but willingly carries-out his role, steadfast in his beliefs that a servant is to do whatever he is told. Any disobedience or wrong-doing can lead to consequences to his family. Balram is told to take the blame for a crime he didn’t commit. Realizing that he is doomed, it is upon himself to avoid the ill fate his master’s family has determined for him and he must devise a strategy to escape at all costs to be as ruthless as it takes to survive and thrive.
At just over two hours, The White Tiger feels like the fast drive that the story starts off with, and we had no difficulty staying the course in this well-told adaptation. It is hard to believe that this is Gourav’s first role in a feature as he tackles Balram‘s path from passive and naive cub to ferocious feline like a seasoned screen veteran. While the story makes no clear statement on morality, this is more about what happens when there is an abuse of power, a vicious cycle and how survival isn’t always about doing the right thing, especially when the system itself and the values it upholds, are corrupt. As well, Chopra-Jonas (who serves as Producer along with Ava Duvernay) as Pinky, with her American ideals, serves as our conscience. While hardly in this enough, she’s commanding whenever she is seen.
We love the Soundtrack which fuses Hip-Hop and Bhangra, a nod to the time this Novel surfaced originally and Paolo Carnera‘s Cinematography is highly-stylized. Definitely beginning the year right and raising the bar high for films to follow.
THE WHITE TIGER streams on Netflix Friday, January 22, 2021.