The White Tiger is a very well written and directed drama from Ramin Bahrani. Based on a 2008 Aravind Adiga novel by the same name, Adarsh Gourav plays the lead role, Balram Halwai. Balram is a young man from a poor village in India with big ideas. We first meet Balram as a successful entrepreneur, writing an email to the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao who is about to visit India. He is keen to tell the Premier about his rise to the top. Through this email, much of the film is narrated by the lead character as we are taken through his back story starting with his days in his family village.
As a young child, Balram is an outstanding student. But his grandmother pulls him out of the world of education and into a life of hard labour. In the years that follow, Balram refuses to give in to a life of poverty, every move dictated by his grandmother. He makes an opportunity for himself to become a second driver for the corrupt village landlords son. Balram slowly progresses into a tougher, more devious character as he seeks to become the number one driver. It’s in this position that his eyes are now open to the true extent of his new “family’s” dodgy dealings. The more that life throws at Balram, the more his determination grows to make his life a success.
This movie provides us with an insight into India’s poverty and the gulf between the poor and the wealthy. We see an India that suffers from a class system like many other countries. But here, it seems to have bigger extremes at the bottom and the top. Corruption also appears to be rife with high ranking government officials taking payments from prominent business people. It’s for these very reasons that I find myself on Balrams side despite the horrible lengths he goes to in order to reach his goals. While it is impossible to condone some of his actions, what other choice does he have in a system such as this?
The White Tiger succeeds in telling a very interesting story about one mans journey out of poverty. It’s a rough ride but a worthy rags to riches tale. But on top of that, it offers an interesting look into India’s class system and attitudes towards the poor. I found it a fascinating movie on many different levels.
An entertaining tale of a young mans journey from rags to riches in India. Full of humour, darkness and light at the end of the tunnel. A well made and brilliantly acted film.