The White Tiger

I loved Aravind Adiga’s Booker-winning novel when it was published and admire this clever adaptation for the big screen. It’s a modern-day parable of how David can slay Goliath and survive to tell the tale. Balram (Adarsh Gourav) comes from an impoverished rural family indebted to its feudal landowners.

A clever boy, he is determined to escape his destiny in the family tea-shop  and cunningly inveigles himself into a job driving for his landlord’s youngest son Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky Madam (the luscious Priyanka Chopra), both recently returned from the US and full of modern ideas that conflict with the family’s more traditional view of life. Despite Balram’s subservient loyalty he finds himself betrayed and must redress the balance if he is to attain his dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

Ramin Bahrami’s superb direction portrays modern India stuck as it is in its caste time-warp, despite all the so-called land reforms and an untouchable President. Everything about the film is utterly authentic, the characterisation excellent – Balram is never a likable character even if we sympathise with his situation, and his employers are caricatures of the go-getting ruling classes. All in all a satisfying if uncomfortable watch portraying the continuing divide between the rich and the poor.

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