I Watched 'The White Tiger' & Have a Few Things to Tell the Makers

Divya Talwar
·4-min read

Not Everyone Who Goes to the US to Study Comes Back With an Accent, Yeh Aap Matt Bhulna

... and if you wanted Rajkummar Rao’s character Ashok to have an American accent, if it was absolutely necessary, you should have cast Abhishek or Saif maybe? Honestly, it would have been way easier for the dialect coach (doubt there was one) too. YouTube any of their interviews and you’ll know what we mean.

The woman who didn’t forget her<i> bhasha</i> and <i>sanskaar</i> even after having lived in London.
The woman who didn’t forget her bhasha and sanskaar even after having lived in London.

Subtitles! Concept Toh Suna Hoga?

Remember Parasite, a Korean film that took home the most awards at Oscars 2020? The world watched this masterpiece with subtitles. It was one of those few movies that were appreciated by both critics and the audience. Why did the makers not take a lesson from that film? No matter how “desi” the character is, he can and does converse in English when he wants to with a lot of ease. Angrez chale gaye, angrezi ka obsession chhodd gaye!
The only bits that seem a little authentic are the ones of Balram (a character brilliantly performed by Adarsh Gourav) in his village, Laxmangarh. Why? Because thankfully, the makers didn’t make Balram’s ‘granny’ speak in English.

My reaction when I hear <i>zamindaars,</i> the stork and the mangoose talk to Balram in English.
My reaction when I hear zamindaars, the stork and the mangoose talk to Balram in English.

What Does It Take to Be Compassionate? A Degree From the United States of America

Ashok: Why do you hit the servants? In America, they can sue you for that.
Ashok’s rich landlord father: This is not America, son.


Seriously, is there a special course in the American Universities that teaches people to be... humans? At least that’s what the makers want us to believe. The only two people in the film who care about the poor or are empathetic towards them are America-returned, Ashok and Pinky.

Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s most compassionate of them all?
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s most compassionate of them all?

The Narration, the Dialogues... Who Talks Like That?

Okay, I get that this film has been adapted from Aravind Adiga's award-winning novel of the same name but Balram’s voice over in the film almost looks like a long book reading session, the visuals literally showing what is being said.

Let’s not even get started on the dialogues in this film. “My master does not do these things. He’s a good man”, says Balram to another driver on his first day in Delhi. Do we know anyone who talks like that IRL? No! Boss bolo na, boss!

Adapt, don’t steal.
Adapt, don’t steal.

Will the Real Ashok Please Stand up?

Rajkummar Rao’s character Ashok is as confused as his accent in the film. Sometimes compassionate, mostly numb and at times even hysterical for no particular reason. He likes Balram at one point, treats him like an equal but as his stay in India gets extended, his kindness fades away for no apparent reason - sangat ka asar? That’s the only justification.

Control, Ashok, control.
Control, Ashok, control.

Want to Make a Film on Desis for Videsi Audience? Let’s Stereotype

A Hindu marrying a Christian is 'normal' in America, not in India.
A rich Hindu landlord will never employ a Muslim or even someone from a lower caste.
When a woman in India has a point of view, the husband should tell her that “this is not a place for her to talk.”

The makers want us to believe that Balram’s point of view is how the entire country thinks and lives. NOT TRUE! What’s worse? People outside of India believe this is the REAL India. NOT TRUE AGAIN! It’s more than just black and white but for these filmmakers, people in India either live in a high-rise or slums, nothing in between.

Every desi film for videsi audience be like...
Every desi film for videsi audience be like...

Also Read: Poverty Porn, Saviour Complex: The White Tiger Caters to the West

. Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.Did the President Unveil a Photo of Actor Prosenjit as Netaji? I Watched 'The White Tiger' & Have a Few Things to Tell the Makers . Read more on Hot Take by The Quint.