“The White Tiger” serves up a lot of laughs but the issues in this drama are serious. It is the story of a society where there is no grey, only black or white and rich or poor. A system in which some are born into servitude and die as servants. What the narrator and lead character Balram Halwai played by Adarsh Gourav calls the chicken coop.
The film is told in a flashback by Balram who narrates his rise from the poor village boy who lost his scholarship and dropped out of school to a successful Indian entrepreneur. The film also stars Priyanka Chopra-Jonas as Pinky and Rajkummar Rao as Ashok, Pinky’s husband. Pinky and Ashok were Balram’s bosses. They lived in the US so they are modern and liberal. Balram dropped out of school after his father passed away and he was forced to join the family business. Balram manages his to warm his way into the home of the village landlord and becomes the family’s second drive. But it was his association with Ashok and Pinky that enabled him to see the light, and resulted in his change of fortune.
“The White Tiger” is authenically Indian and does not sugarcoat the issues. Chopra-Jonas and Rao give good performances in their supporting roles but Gourav shines in his lead role because of his wit and satirical storytelling.
In the end, unlike most dramas, “The White Tiger” does not portray any consequence for wrongdoing. Whilst one might dislike that, with lndia’s population of over a billion people and extreme poverty, we learn from Balram that a child can get knocked down by a car and there will be no consequences, and a criminal can get away because there are a lot of people who look like him. So, for India’s poor, there are only two ways to get out of poverty, crime or politics. If that is true, it is indeed sad.
At the other end of the spectrum, the film is a story about humanity. Not just showcasing the injustices against the poor but the story of a man who becomes a better boss despite a dark past. “The White Tiger” is streaming on Netflix.