The White Tiger is adapted from the novel by the same name written by Aravind Adiga, and has won the Man Booker Prize in 2008. While the well-written book deservedly became hugely popular and 12 years later, still peddled at traffic signals, one was curious to see how the Iranian American director Ramin Bahrani would translate Adiga’s world on the silver screen. And one must say, Bahrani has managed to execute a wonderfully realistic and immensely watchable film, doing full justice and more to the novel.
Balram (Adarsh Gourav) belongs to a lower caste of sweetmeat makers and has always had the ambitions and the brains to make it big in life. But he’s so shackled down by the conditioning that he belongs to the ‘servant’ class and the demands of his greedy grandmother that he chooses a life of slavery for himself. But despite constricting conditions, he wants to grow bigger than working at a tea stall like his brother.
When he comes to know that a rich man from Dhanbad (Mahesh Manjrekar) is looking for a driver for his US returned son, Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), he decides to grab the opportunity even though he doesn’t know how to drive. Balram’s smart ticking brain and his tenacity manages to land him the coveted job and also the proximity of Ashok and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra). Balram is happy and high with the thought of having achieved his mission till a mishap happens and it doesn’t take him long to realise that in the end he will be treated as a servant and his “owners” won’t even blink before making him the scapegoat.
This is a film that dwells into the struggle of an individual’s ambition and his conditioning from having come from an underprivileged family. Balram lets his aggressive ambition take over his conditioning thus leading to some dramatic turns in the narration.
The best thing of the film is Adarsh Gourav who is a fantastic find. Gourav goes through a myriad of emotions through his journey inwards and he does a really good job of it. The rest of the cast, especially Priyanka and Rajkummar give wonderful performances too.
A special mention has to be made of the gorgeous cinematography (Paulo Carnerra). Paulo contributes a great deal to the film as he manages to capture the soul of the dusty village that Balram belongs to, the winter nights in Delhi, the dismal room that Balram makes his home in direct contrast to the shiny 5 star hotel suite that he has to report to. The writing (screenplay written by Bahrani himself) is excellent and some of the dialogues are memorable. Bahrani’s film is a mighty good watch. Don’t miss it.
Film: The White Tiger
Cast: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra,
Director: Ramin Bahrani
(Shubha Shetty is Director — Quest Films/Quest Digital)