The White Tiger is an adaptation of Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name. In this atypical rags to riches story, a poor Indian driver named Balram strives to raise his status in life. However, India’s two caste system makes this dream all but impossible. Let’s consider the pros and cons of The White Tiger…
Pros: This movie is comprised of mostly unknown actors to the mainstream Hollywood audience, however everyone does an outstanding job! I also like how the narrator likens the poor population to being trapped in a rooster coop early on. Although it is a degrading juxtaposition, it helps the audience visualize the dire situation he was born into. This analogy also seamlessly plays into the theme of this movie, which is breaking through cultural norms to succeed. Balram has ambitions beyond serving others and must unlearn much of his upbringing in order to seize the fleeting opportunities in front of him. Lastly, I appreciate the pacing and consistency in this film. The “White Tiger” is alluded to at the beginning, middle and end, so there is no mistaking what this movie is about.
Cons: This movie has it’s upbeat moments, but overall it is very dour and even gut wrenching at times. Balram’s struggle to break free from the caste that has defined his entire life, leads him down a dark path. Perhaps the movie is saying that only a tiger can walk this path, but regardless, it’s not someone I want to root for by the end. Balram claws his way to the top, only to perpetuate the very system he was fighting against for so long. The only reason this ending works at all is because of this intentional irony, but it’s a far cry from the “happily ever after” we’re conditioned to expect.
I give The White Tiger a B+. Anything less would be discounting the incredibly compelling story and phenomenal acting in this film. For better or for worse, prepare to be thoroughly immersed in Indian culture! Happy Watching!
Where to Watch
- Netflix with Subscription
“In the jungle, which is the rarest of animals that comes along only once in a generation?… That is what you are. The White Tiger.”