‘The White Tiger’ review: An eviscerating comedy about Indian castes

‘The White Tiger’ review: An eviscerating comedy about Indian castes

Running
time:
125
minutes.
Rated
R
(language,
violence
and
sexual
material).
On
Netflix.

Many
memorable
movies
have
been
made
about
the
struggles
of
India’s
poorest
citizens.
Oscar
winner
“Slumdog
Millionaire”
and
“Lion,”
both
starring
Dev
Patel,
chronicled
boys’
climbs
from
small
ignored
villages
to
greener
pastures. 

Using
different
styles
and
stories,
both
of
those
films
grabbed
our
hearts.

“The
White
Tiger,”
on
the
other
hand,
takes
our
heart,
stomps
on
it
and
then
maniacally
laughs.
The
acidic
satire,
based
on
Aravind
Adiga’s
novel,
gives
the
well-worn
genre
a
rebel
streak,
and
its
wronged
main
character
is
more
like
the
scheming
family
of
“Parasite”
than
a
doe-eyed
kid
trying
to
reckon
with
his
hardscrabble
past.

His
name
is
Balram
(Adarsh
Gourav),
a
low-caste
young
man
who
lives
with
his
grandmother
and
brother,
and
is
saddled
with
a
life
of
predetermined
servitude.
He
explains,
through
reflective
narration,
how
he
escaped
his
down-and-out
destiny
to
become
a
wealthy
entrepreneur.

Adarsh Gourav and Priyanka Chopra Jonas in a scene from "The White Tiger."
Adarsh
Gourav
and
Priyanka
Chopra
Jonas
in
a
scene
from
“The
White
Tiger.”

©Netflix/Courtesy
Everett

Shooting
for
a
better
gig
than
cleaning
dirty
restaurants,
Balram
learns
to
drive
and
is
soon
hired
by
Ashok
(Rajkummar
Rao)

the
wealthy
son
of
a
landlord

and
his
girlfriend
Pinky
(Priyanka
Chopra). 

Suddenly,
a
guy
who
has
never
heard
the
word
“computer”
leaps
from
eating
outside
on
the
ground
to
spending
his
days
in
a
luxury
hotel,
even
though
servants
still
have
to
sleep
in
makeshift
shelters
in
the
parking
garage. His
shimmering
new
life
gives
him
the
tools
to
jump
ahead

and
I’m
not
talking
résumés
and
references.
Balram
gets
by
on
good,
old-fashioned
street
smarts
and
violence.

Adarsh Gourav plays Balram, a low-caste young man who lives with his grandmother and brother. Rather than a life of predetermined servitude, he is hired by Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) — the wealthy son of a landlord — and his girlfriend Pinky (Priyanka Chopra) as a driver.
Adarsh
Gourav
plays
Balram,
a
low-caste
young
man
who
lives
with
his
grandmother
and
brother.
Rather
than
a
life
of
predetermined
servitude,
he
is
hired
by
Ashok
(Rajkummar
Rao)

the
wealthy
son
of
a
landlord

and
his
girlfriend
Pinky
(Priyanka
Chopra)
as
a
driver.

©Netflix/Courtesy
Everett

Clearly,
“The
White
Tiger”
is
a
much
darker
film
than
“Lion”
or
“Slumdog,”
which
emphasized
humanity’s
positives.
Writer-director
Ramin
Bahrani’s
movie
is
also,
at
the
core,
an
eviscerating
comedy.

“It’s
an
ancient
and
venerated
custom
of
my
people
to
start
a
story
by
praying
to
a
higher
power,”
begins
Balram
early
in
the
film.
“So
I,
too,
should
start
off
by
kissing
some
god’s
foot.”

Much
of
the
social
critique
is
given
to
Chopra’s
character,
who
was
born
in
India
and
raised
in
New
York.
After
Balram,
the
brassy
woman
from
Queens

anathema
to
the
chauvinistic
local
men

is
the
most
intriguing
spoke
in
the
wheel.
Arriving
in
Delhi,
Pinky
is
at
first
appalled
by
the
way
servants
are
treated,
but
gradually,
she
becomes
a
beneficiary
of
the
ugly
system.

But
the
real
find
here
is
Gourav,
who
gives
a
pressure-cooker
turn
as
Balram,
a
guy
who
can
no
longer
smile
and
nod
at
his
own
oppression.
He
switches
rapidly
from
sweet
to
deranged,
gullible
to
Machiavellian,
generous
to
bloodthirsty.
This
guy’s
got
more
layers
than

spanakopita
.
So
far,
the
26-year-old
actor
has
worked
mainly
in
Indian
films
and
TV
shows,
but
hopefully
“White
Tiger”
is
the
start
of
seeing
a
whole
lot
more
of
him
stateside.

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