Criticism: ‘White Tiger’, the radical Netflix film that mixes ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Parasites’

It’s a fact: finding a hole in the jungle of content Netflix not an easy task, especially during the winter months when the streaming platform pulls out the tanks in the hopes of grabbing it. Oscar for best film that escaped Roma and The Irish. But that the trees (the new works of David Fincher, Meryl Streep, Aaron Sorkin O Viola Davis) don’t let us see the forest. Beyond the famous algorithm and the list of the ten most viewed contents every day on its service, on Netflix you can also find little gems that deserve our attention, from the polarizing I’m thinking of quitting from Charlie Kaufman to this week’s brand new premiere: White Tiger, the film adaptation of the novel by Aravind Adiga, winner of the prestigious award Booker in 2008.

Lets start by the beginning. Balram Halwai, our hero (or not, Adiga’s roads are inscrutable) and verbose narrator is a humble peasant who, thanks to his cunning, starts working as a chauffeur for Ashok and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas, notable in a small role that makes it clear that Hollywood is under-utilizing their talents), a successful young couple who have just returned from the United States to start a new life in their native India. The caste system and the country’s society have taught Balram that his place in the world is to be a loyal and effective servant. An accident makes you start to rethink your place in the world and, above all, your relationship with your bosses and the system that prevails over all of them. Without meaning to (or perhaps yes, it is one of the doubts left by a fascinating film that raises more debates than answers), Balram plunges into a journey into darkness, success and revenge.

Nothing we’ve said here is a spoiler, by the way. White Tiger It is told from the future, posing a question to the viewer: how the hell did the seemingly innocent main character get here? Adiga’s unpredictable – even when you know there are curves looming in the story – narrative deviations play on the viewer’s empathy thanks to her decision to use Balram as an omnipresent storyteller (at times charismatic, at times irritating, always interesting) who takes you by the hand to accompany him during his climb on the uneven New Dehli. How not to be on their side? The peasant has all the ingredients to be the classic hero with loser traits with whom the audience connects … until the film takes a 180º turn and the character begins to make decisions and do things that, in any other story, would make him on the villain on duty.


Nothing is easy or simplistic in proposing Ramin Bahrani, an American independent filmmaker of Iranian ancestry who had already tackled issues of class and capitalism in the stupendous 99 Homes. The same year that White Tiger reached the bookstores, Danny Boyle premiere Slumdog Millionaire, an unexpected success that swept the box office and the Hollywood Academy Awards: its 8 Oscars, including best picture, have only been surpassed in the 21st century by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2003.

Both stories share setting (the poorer and bitter face of India that he used to ignore even his own cinema) and themes (success, inequalities, social and economic rise), but his way of approaching them is diametrically opposite. If the colorful story starring Dev Patel advocated the happy ending of a poor young man who had imposed himself on circumstances, conquered the girl and made a millionaire thanks to his passage through Who wants to be a millionaire?, here we meet an antihero for whom success, money and survival will have a very high moral and personal cost.

As the story progresses, White Tiger goes deeper and deeper into a recent narrative stream led by films like the existentialist The hole, horror comedy Wedding night, the intrigue to Agatha Christie from Daggers in the back and, above all of them, the great phenomenon of last year: Parasites. Starting from different genders and ambitions, all of them pose what would happen if the most disadvantaged said “enough is enough” and rose up against those privileged ones who, in one way or another, oppress them. White Tiger embrace the new subgenre called eat the rich (It would come to be translated into Spanish as “eat the rich man”) based on black humor and a turn to the most violent thriller in the second half of the film, a radical change of tone that will expel more than one viewer who, guided by what he was seeing so far, expected to find another kind of story. The density and irregularity of the proposal in several of its passages or excessive footage to which there are easily 20 minutes. However, the stellar revelation of the unknown protagonist (an overwhelming Adarsh ​​Gourav) and above all, its radicality and originality At a time when the series and movies we see are becoming more and more similar to each other, these are more than enough arguments to get on Balram’s fascinating journey to glory and doom.

‘White Tiger’ is now available on Netflix.

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Criticism: ‘White Tiger’, the radical Netflix film that mixes ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Parasites’