Updated: May 26
However, in the film, the criticism is toned down as well as the protagonist pauses himself, wanders aimlessly in a crazy manner, you clearly get an idea of what’s actually going on inside him and how his master’s changed behavior is affecting him and his intentions
Netflix’s new release, The White Tiger by Ramin Bahrani based on the book of the same name, written by his dear friend Aravind Adiga illustrates the traumatic conditions of servants in India. Much like the book, the film follows the same path. Mr. Jiabao from China is visiting India and our narrator is writing the longest email in history by telling all about his life and how he changed his life from being a servant to an entrepreneur. This is an analytical review that will closely compare the adaptation from the source material so major spoilers ahead.
The film starts with the mid-point of the story, an incident that changes the whole dynamics of each and every character. Pinky Madam ( Priyanka) accidentally hits a kid with the car. However, it cleverly shifts itself to the starting point of the protagonist’s story. Balram ( Adarsh ) is a bright student in his village, he is even regarded as The White Tiger of the school, who gets born only once in generations by an inspection officer. He even gave a guarantee to Balram that he will make sure that Balram gets a scholarship but the very next moment Balram is forced to leave school and work at a tea shop because his father is in heavy debt with the landlord.
Balram learns how to drive and travels to the palace of Mr. Stork aka Mahesh Manjrekar to be their driver. As he learned from eavesdropping on several customers in the tea shop that it pays well to be a driver. Balram’s master Mr. Ashok came back from New York and is determined to start his outsourcing business in Bangalore. However, he is so stuck between what his wife wants from him and what his family wants from him that he barely gets time to think about his goal. Now, in the book Mr. Ashok after having a divorce from Pinky and being unable to convince his ex-love to be with him, drowns in the bog of politics so much that he starts forgetting the good notions about himself and engages in adultery. Balram is disappointed to see him like this and tries to help him out of his misery but he is unable to do so. However, in the film, Mr. Ashok isn’t given much space. His ex-love never comes into the equation. Nor he engages in adultery. He just becomes really depressed and numbly follows what’s being told to him by his brother and father. Rajkumar Rao as Mr. Ashok is impressive and despite all these changes and less space, he still manages to give a noteworthy performance.
Now coming to Balram, after Pinky leaves Mr. Ashok, he has to look after Mr. Ashok like a wife. He hangs out with him and teaches him various interesting things about our culture. In the book, the constant criticism about India as well as his disappointment about the changing behavior of his master takes so much space that often what’s going on with him from inside barely manages to come up. However, in the film, the criticism is toned down as well as the protagonist pauses himself, wanders aimlessly in a crazy manner, you clearly get an idea of what’s actually going on inside him and how his master’s changed behavior is affecting him and his intentions. Adarsh Gourav gives one of the best performances ever, can’t be certain about the future but I feel he is going to grab all major awards for his acting in this film.
Much like the book’s ending, the film’s end also feels rushed. However, the film still manages to run swiftly as well as a pause when needed, which makes the film better in some ways if compared to the book. Vijay, the bus conductor who became a politician is completely thrown out of the scenario in the film. I feel his character could have been used in the film, don’t know why he was omitted. A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth was also adapted into a show by BBC but the dialect and the pronunciation of English by Indian actors were so unpleasant that it hindered the quality of the show. It was easily one of the worst adaptations ever done. The White Tiger is primarily made in English but the dialect and pronunciation are on point and feel genuine. Also, the urban rap culture mix of music in the film made it more appealing than ever. Overall, in certain ways, the film is actually better than the book. It is rare but it is certainly possible.