Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Price winning novel, “ The White Tiger” is an American Drama film by the director Ramin Bahrani. Bahrani has always tried to portray the lives of the lower classes and how they have always gone through pain and sufferings due to the upper classes. His main motive has been to portray the true colours of all the classes that exist in a society. His major works have been Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Fahrenheit 415 and At Any Price.
The movie begins where Balram Halwai is narrating his own revolutionary story. Living his life in a village known as Laxmangarh, Halwai had noticed the major disadvantages of being a poor low caste in rural India. He had always been a bright student but due to poverty, his education was stopped and he had to work in a tea stall. Very close to his father, he would always notice how improperly he was treated by the Zamindar family who was politically extremely strong. Balram’s father met his death due to tuberculosis and because no doctors were willing to check such patients which would not fill their pockets. This was the time when the kid decided that he had to be successful and started taking small steps.
Balram had an aim to grow up like “The Great Socialist” who was a major political leader although she had been a low caste. The story continues as Balram had overheard that the Zamindar family was searching for a driver which made him convince that he has to take driving lessons in order to achieve better. After that, he was successful to get a job as a driver for the family. Sooner, he found out that the first driver was a Muslim which gave him an opportunity to remove him and upgrade his position. This is how he became Ashok and Pinky Madam’s driver. One way or the other, Balram was a huge fan of the couple and found them extremely charismatic.
However, the driver was uncomfortable with the Zamindar and his brother whom he referred to as the Stork and the Mongoose. Once while cleaning the house, Balram noticed the Great Socialist coming into the house where a scandal took place which made the Zamindars decide to shift their party choices. This is when the family went to New Delhi for offering bribes to the other party people. Balram was amazed to see what the power of money was. Somewhere, he and Ashok developed a cordial rapport which he referred to as the “master-servant” relation.
The mishap took place on the night of Pinky Madam’s birthday. Totally intoxicated, the woman decided to drive the car which made her hit a poor child. It totally turned into a hit and run case. After a few days, Balram was called and was asked to sign a form that marked him down as the culprit. This made him realise how harsh such people can be.
Sooner, he was again asked for because the case was not filed since there were no witnesses. But out of guilt, Pinky Madam left for the States, leaving Balram 9,300 rupees. Looking at the money, he realized that it was not enough to make him a successful man like his dreams. Ashok was all shattered after his wife had left him. Balram became his shoulder to cry upon but he realized that his master would show his true colours when his family was present.
Once, going to Raj Bhavan, Balram opened Ashok’s “ red bag” where he saw huge bundles of notes. He realized that it was anyway the money of all the poor people. But on the other side of his mind, he knew that his amount of money will not make him triumphant. So, he decided on a plan and murdered Ashok on a deserted rainy night. He knew that he would be in trouble so he bribed the police with the money. That made him an established entrepreneur of the car services known as the “ White Tiger Company.” He clearly showed that in this jungle, he was the “ White Tiger”, the animal which would only appear once in a few decades.
Adarsh Gourav as Balram Halwai
Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Pinky Madam
Rajkumar Rao as Ashok
Mahesh Manjrekar as The Stork
Vijay Maurya as Mongoose
Nalneesh Neel as Vitiligo
Swaroop Sampath as The Great Socialist
In order to turn the rags into riches, Halwai knew that only two things can turn him successful: politics and crime. He knew that even the “Great Socialist” had surely made some wrongful acts in order to turn herself famous and influential. Noticing the red bag filled with bribes, Balram knew that it was his key to success and happiness. He had etched a plan and although he did not want it to happen in such a brutal form, Balram had to make it happen. The Mongoose would have been a better option to kill, but since Ashok was the one transferring the bag to several places, he became the aim. One night when it was heavily raining, the driver pretended that the tyre had got punctured which made Ashok stepped out of the car. Balram pushed him and injured him first and then with a broken liquor bottle slit his throat. This is how he became the owner of the red bag, turning his fortune into something exactly the opposite.
Balram Halwai always knew that his family of 17 will be killed if any mishaps or lies are made by him. But after he had committed the crime, the driver was certain that his family will be killed by the Zamindars. This once again showed the major distinction between the two classes. It also proved that Balram no longer had thought of a family. Selfishness also can be regarded as one of the fundamental elements to bring about success.
Balram takes the name of Ashok and starts a car service company named the “ White Tiger”. There were several different rules that made his company an extremely friendly yet formal place to be a part of. He became one of the greatest entrepreneur’s in India and also got an opportunity to meet Chinese President Wen Jiabao.
“The White Tiger” has been very properly portrayed with a realistic script and power pact performances made by the actors. Although some of the main scenes from the novel has not been shown in the film, it can be still considered as
a watch. The movie has been quite successful in symbolizing both the concepts of caste and class. The current scenario of much later India after independence shows the forwardness of the country in certain segments but also highlights the backwardness present in the minds as well as in economic aspects. Bahrani has clearly shot the film in such backgrounds and has always brought such issues in clearly every scene.
Adarsh Gourav as Balram Halwai has delivered an incredible performance in the film. He has been content with the portrayal of a backward class person who had always been obedient to the rules laid down by his masters. But his realization of power and the treatment of the society had turned into a complete maniac which was played by Gourav beautifully.
It was good to see Priyanka Chopra Jonas as Pinky Madam who can be considered as a life-changing variable for Balram Halwai. Pinky has been portrayed as a rebellious woman who has always been rational throughout her life. Chopra has proved herself once again as a brilliant actress after establishing her as the proper Pinky Madam, who unlike most women in the country, had an identity without her husband.
Ashok played by Rajkumar Rao was smoothly delivered in the film. Ashok, the boy who had studied from the US, played a major role in the driver’s life. Although having a soft side, Ashok was mostly enveloped with the colonial thoughts that have been a stagnant part of the Zamindar family. Rao has been great in the emotional scenes as well as while showing his dominance, but his US-led accent looked pretty fake in certain shots.
Thus, “ The White Tiger” can be regarded as a satisfying watch that portrays various issues that are still present in every corner of the country India.