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The White Tiger: Exposing India’s Jungle Morality

Image Source: Netflix

The White Tiger a film full of contrasts and absurdities, reflects the land it was shot in. The film features Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Rajkummar Rao and Adarsh Gourav among others. The Millennial Hub reviews!

The Plot of The White Tiger

The film starts with a wealthy-looking Balram Halwai narrating his story to a visiting Chinese prime businessman. Balram deviously states, “I know your land loves freedom and personal liberty”. The film is rife with such dry humor and naked irony. There is an India of light and an India of darkness, Halwai states. The White Tiger is about how these two Indias intersect, how the rich exploit the poor and how the poor exploit the rich, and how everyone struggles to climb up the social ladder. India is a primal land where you basically have to fight your way out of destitution if you are not born rich or with the correct surname.

The White Tiger
Image Source: Netflix

Characters’ Sketch of The White Tiger

A jungle disguising itself as a country. Balram Halwai is The White Tiger, a creature that is born ‘once in a generation’, a creature born in the lower rungs of society that manages to defy his destiny. The antagonists of the film are literally called ‘The Stork’ and ‘The Mongoose’. Ramin Bahrani, the director, manages to retain the ugliness and humor of the original novel. The movie does not compromise on this ugliness.

It is on full display right from the beginning: water buffaloes, a lack of basic resources, people squatting on the street, paan-stained teeth, corruption. Just like in the jungle, there is no rule of law, rather there are different rules for different people. Perhaps the most poignant dialogue from the movie occurs when a drunk Pinky (Priyanka Chopra) runs over a child from the slums and asks in passing “Is it alive?” It. As if the child was a mere object, a termite, a non-entity in the ecosystem of the jungle.

The White Tiger
Image Source: Netflix

What works for The White Tiger?

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this film is explaining in simple terms the culture of ‘hero worship’ and the entrenched hierarchical systems in India. The glorification of servitude, the almost masochistic way of completely surrendering yourself to the hands of your master. Halwai calls this way of thinking ‘The Rooster Coop’, where millions of Indians are still trapped. Halwai breaks out of it through extraordinary measures, making possible something that should not normally happen. He is the one who escaped.

The White Tiger is funny, insightful and gives us a proper look into The Rooster Coop that is the whole of India.

Final Verdict

The White Tiger is a black comedy gold. Its commentary on Indian society perfectly reveals the moral psychology of this country. As such it becomes extremely political without being about politics. Watch it if you’re in the mood for some hilarious social commentary.

Rating: 4/5

Title: The White Tiger

Streaming Portal: Netflix

Written by Gautam Deka

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