Based on the New York Times best-selling novel, The White Tiger follows the life of Balram (Adarsh Gourav), an impoverished man who uses his smarts and charisma to climb India’s caste system to achieve success as an entrepreneur.
This darky humorous satire examines India’s intense class system and economic division in a very self-aware, cynical, yet designed-for-westerners way — sort of similar to Danny Boyle’s Academy Award winning, Slumdog Millionaire.
In fact, the film feels like a turbulent hybrid of Slumdog Millionaire, Scarface and Parasite. In other words, its tone rollercoasters from energetic joy to utterly grim, all mixed in with genuine human drama.
However, what distinguishes The White Tiger is its capability to not romanticize or shy away from the corruption that the film’s protagonist becomes so heavily influenced by to survive.
It isn’t by luck or coincidence that Balram gets to where he is. It’s by being ruthless. Not exactly the feel good protagonist we normally root for, but we do root for him.
And the character of Balram is why The White Tiger is so engrossing.
Gourav’s performance as the protagnist carries the film as he transforms from sweet and unknowing to a bloodthirsty self-made man, refusing to settle for what society has already decided for him.
As he shares, he decides his quest from servant to master. And although the constant voice overs and inconsistent theming can be a bit of a turn off, this is a journey worth watching
Final Thoughts: The White Tiger is an uneven but engaging satire with great performances.