The critically acclaimed film The White Tiger, starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao and the much talked about debutante Adarsh Gourav has been released globally on Netflix. The film is based on the New York Times bestseller and Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same title, by Arvind Adiga. And it is the latest creation of critically acclaimed Director and screenwriter Ramin Bahrani.
After a short teaser trailer which created much anticipation in October, last year, the film had released its official trailer last Monday.
The gripping trailer gives us a gist about the film’s storyline and the main characters. It starts with an ambitious and smart young hero Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) narrating his journey and childhood dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
The moment he sets his eyes on Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), he imagines he has found the first step to realise his dream. He says he has found his ‘master’. He expresses his wish to work for Ashok, but is continuously met with condescension because of his social status and class divide. Society has trained Balram to be a perfect servant. He quickly makes himself indispensable to his rich masters Ashok, and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra), who has recently returned from America. But after a night of betrayal, he realises the corrupt lengths they will go to trap him and save themselves. Ashok and Pinky try to trap him in a road accident case to protect themselves. On the verge of losing everything, Balram rebels against a rigged and unequal system to rise up and become a new kind of master. Herein comes the final hook of the trailer.
Novelist Arvind Adiga speaks about his journey and making of the film.
He says, “When my friend Ramin Bahrani made his first feature film, Man Push Cart, in 2005, he launched two careers at once. His own and mine. The artistic vision and social commitment that illuminated Man Push Cart inspired me to start my own, long-planned novel. The White Tiger was completed in 2008. Not many dreams in life come true, but this one has. 12 years later, my novel has become a film, and Ramin Bahrani is the Director. Witty, provocative, and moving, the film he has made not only brings my book to life but transcends it. I hope that everyone has a chance to view The White Tiger.”
Iranian American filmmaker Raman Bahrani and the author Arvind Adiga had been classmates at Columbia University, New York. This is where their creative camaraderie started. “We connected on being outsiders on a predominantly white campus; we spoke of books, films, and our ambitions. I wanted to be a filmmaker, and he was on his way to becoming a novelist,” says Ramin.
So how is the relationship between the two characters in the movie – Balram and Ashok?
In the Director’s own words, it is ‘complicated’. It pivots around a significant line from the novel, “Do we loathe our masters behind a facade of love, or do we love them behind a facade of loathing?”
“When he first sees Ashok, he looks like a movie star who’s landed in this village and Balram is immediately awestruck by him. His dress, his walk, his sunglasses. Balram wants to be him. He desires to have Ashok’s apartment, clothes, wife, and life. In a way, he desires Ashok. But at a certain point, Balram is betrayed by his master, he is let down and perceived as weak. So why doesn’t Balram leave Ashok or do even worse right then? Because Balram’s sense of servitude has been embedded into his soul, calcified to his bones. So even after the betrayal, Balram can’t leave his master. It takes another step for him to fully break free from his own sense of self and worth,” narrates Ramin.
We see in the trailer itself, that Balram goes through a dramatic change of wardrobe and outlook, as he rises up as the master of his own destiny. It is to be seen now in the movie, whether the film follows the Bollywood cliché of turning the oppressed and wronged hero into a mafia boss. Or the character transcends itself into a master of a different league altogether.
Apart from Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the dramatic trailer also shows Mahesh Manjrekar in a crucial role. Priyanka Chopra is also the executive producer on the film along with Emmy-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay.
Watch the film’s trailer here:
Is The White Tiger in your list of this weekend’s binge? Let Asian Sunday Online know your thoughts after watching the film.