Cast: Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Director - Ramin Bahrani
Release date - 22 January, 2020
‘The White Tiger’ directed by Raman Bahrani is based on Arvind Adiga’s novel of the same name. Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao and Adarsh Gaurav star in this story about the immense class and caste divide that’s prevalent in India. The novel won the Man Booker Prize in 2008, will this 2021 film make for a compelling watch?
Stay tuned to find out
Balram Halwai, played by Adarsh Gourav, has known only hardship since childhood. Having witnessed his father living a life of debt and his aspirations of higher studies being snuffed out early, he refuses to be shackled by poverty. He can read and speak English and he plans to use that to his advantage. The notion of servitude is so deeply ingrained in the Indian society - can Balram really break free?
Ashok and Pinky, played by Priyanka and Rajkummar, are Balram’s employers. They have returned from the US and don’t approve of the way servants are treated in the household. The household or the patriarchs in this family are the Stork and the Mongoose - Ashok’s father and elder brother - landlords from Balram’s village.
The director brings out the stark differences that coexist in India. The nation as the fastest growing global economy. The haves live a life of opulence and luxury. And the have-nots, who have no way of escaping their fate of impoverishment. What makes the chasm deeper is the caste-divide that allow some to always behave entitled.
The cast of ‘The White Tiger’ - especially Priyanka and Rajkummar - belt out convincing performances. Priyanka as the NRI daughter-in-law fails to fathom how the class/caste dynamics play out in India’s heartland. Rajkummar plays her husband - he tries to behave emancipated but it is almost impossible for him to escape the trappings of the social structure that he is a part of.
The hero of this tale is obviously Adarsh Gourav - his portrayal of Balram is at once, likeable and loathsome. At times, your heart goes out to the loyal servant who is trying to do the right thing but is always being reminded of his place. At the same time, I felt repelled by some of his actions - does the end justify the means? VO 6
The film is bilingual and the dialogue exchange isn’t seamless. Somewhere the interactions between the Mongoose and Balram, speaking in English seems to just not fit in. While the performances keep you engaged, the climax doesn’t have a dramatic impact. I am going 3.5 stars for this one.
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