How Ramin Bahrani’s film delivers an unprecedented level of insight, artistry and complexity.
When clicking on a Netflix original movie, you’re not expecting to watch a film that will stick with you long after switching off the screen. At least that’s not what I was expecting when curling up to watch, “The White Tiger,” a Netflix original movie that recently dropped on January 22nd.
After riding the two-hour rollercoaster that is “The White Tiger,” it’s safe to say my assumptions about my viewing experience were far from accurate. This Netflix original knocked me off my feet and immediately soared to the top of my “highly recommended” movie list.
Based on the 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel by Aravind Adiga, “The White Tiger” has long been applauded for its immaculate storyline and complex characters. However, when put in the hands of renowned writer and director Ramin Bahrani, known for his work on “Chop Shop,” “99 Homes” and the recent film adaptation of “Fahrenheit 451,” Adiga’s words were brought to life in an unbelievable way.
The film takes you through the life of Balram Halwai, a boy growing up in what he refers to as “the Darkness” of India. In this wounded world, grueling hard work and suffering live right next door to those drowning in luxury and wealth in the most excruciating and ironic way possible.
Upon growing up in this reality, Balram fiercely sets his eyes on getting out of the life he was born into. With the superlative smarts and hungry determination he’s been celebrated for from the time he was a young child, we follow Balram’s harrowing journey from a naive boy with nothing to an esteemed entrepreneur.
In terms of the story, the film does an impeccable job of dissecting the heart-wrenching reality of living in a place where your social class and personal identity are seen as one. As you watch Balram throughout his life, it’s impossible to ignore the revolting excess of injustice, cruelty and judgment that lies in a world where the middle class is minuscule, leaving the majority of the population swimming in wealth or drowning in poverty.
Similar to the 2019 South Korean film “Parasite,” which was awarded Best Picture at the 2020 Oscars, this film is brilliant because of its ability to make paralyzing social statements while also making you laugh. “The White Tiger,” balances dark comedy and social commentary in a way that’s rarely ever seen.
Furthermore, there’s something that must be said about the excellence exuded by the cast of “The White Tiger.” Actor Adarsh Gourav, who plays Balram Halwai, may be making his first U.S mainstream debut with this role but gives a performance that is both heartbreaking and hilarious. His talent and dedication to the role make it seem as though he should already be a household name. The same can be said about his co-stars.
On top of it all, the cinematography and soundtrack of this film could not have been better. The color scheme, set design and overall tone established by the cinematography were clearly purposeful. I was drawn to all elements of the movie within the first five minutes.
When paired with a soundtrack that complimented the film’s thematic message in a subtle, yet perfect way, I knew the movie was going to be a hit amongst both film critics and casual movie-viewers.
Seeing that “Parasite,” lives in my top-three favorite movies of all time, I was overjoyed when realizing that “The White Tiger,” possessed so many similar elements. It was equal parts heartbreaking and motivating, critical and comedic, and ultimately left me reflecting long after I finished watching.
If you’re looking for something that’ll leave you utterly invested for a solid two-hours, I highly recommend this film. It takes any preconceived notions you may have about Netflix originals and throws them out the window, and gives you a satisfying ending that will surely stick with you.