By: Amanda Guarragi
The White Tiger addresses the caste system in India and how one person can break the cycle. It is adapted for the screen by Rabin Bahrani and Aravind Adiga. We see a young man named Balram (Adarsh Gourav) want to make something of himself and takes a different approach to the term “servant”. Balram becomes a driver for a middle class couple, Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), who disagree with the caste system. The couple treat him as part of their family and they become very close friends. Ashok doesn’t treat Balram as a servant, all the time but when he does, there’s this bitterness that you feel for the character.
The way Balram approaches his daily work as a servant is by going above and beyond, even when Ashok tells him to relax. The issue with Ashok and Pinky is that they became too friendly with Balram, so the moments where they go into boss mode, felt like a knife to the back for Balram. Working for people who appear friendly but then treat you horribly, at the same time, is a hard pill to swallow. Balram wanted to work his way up and learn from these people but what he learned was something much worse. The social commentary about the economy, religion, family issues and education is addressed through Balram in a unique way. Balram is outspoken, very gutsy and puts on a facade when he is working.
The film highlights the same rags to riches story but because of Gourav’s delivery of his lines, he brought a fresh tone to the generic structure. He was such a joy to watch and his performance was really strong. However, when the situation that unfolded in the middle of the film, the film started to lose its pacing and the direction of the story kind of fizzled. Of course, after the incident you are locked in to see how they’re going to get out of it but it just dragged on after that moment. There was too much excess that could have been cut down to make the ending pack a punch. It was an interesting story but the second act loses its footing and doesn’t really keep you engaged.
The White Tiger has strong performances, a very fresh script with crisp dialogue that highlights the caste system in India and a pretty great soundtrack. Adarsh Gourav elevated this story and was a powerful force all the way through. It has such an interesting tone because of his voice and his character. There are moments that will leave you shocked and others that will make you agree with Balram actions. His journey is quite different, but the treatment from those, who think they are superior is all the same.