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The White Tiger: A Thrilling Drama That Features a Star-Making Performance From Adarsh Gourav

January 21, 2021

Grade – A – The White Tiger is a thrilling drama that features a star-making performance by Adarsh Gourav.

Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 New York Times bestselling novel of the same name, The White Tiger is a thrilling drama that tells the story of the rise of Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav), a man determined to become his own master. Directed/written/produced by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, Chop Shop), The White Tiger feels like a drama mixed with a crime story, and then formed a darkly humorous and vibrant comedy. While many will be familiar with the rise to fame framework, they hopefully will be surprised by the confident storytelling that features many memorable moments featuring Johnnie Walker, driving, and entertaining narration. 

The White Tiger begins by introducing us to Balram, a sharp kid who lives in a rural village in India. He steps up when others don’t, goes out of his way to learn English, and picks up on every conversation he hears at the teashop he works at. One day, when he learns that Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), the son of a local landlord has returned from America, and he and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) will need a driver. Balram borrows money from his grandmother to get driving lessons, and he becomes Ashran’s personal driver. After several months as the families number two driver, Balram takes advantage of a (don’t want to spoil it) situation, and becomes the families main driver. From there, the group moves to New Delhi, and Balram’s life becomes much more interesting. 

Hopefully, when the year-end awards roll around, people will see Adarsh Gourav’s name on some lists. His performance is wonderful, and he’s able to pull off wide-eyed optimism, crushing depression and calculated ambition within one scene. He’s super watchable, which is important because almost every frame is focused on him. You will find yourself rooting for the guy as he watches, learns and plans his way to the top. Also, I’m not going to spoil anything, but, don’t expect Goodfellas or City of God rags-to-riches shenanigans that end with a gut-punch finale. While Balram’s journey isn’t wholly admirable, it also isn’t dragged into a 45-minute trek into self-created hell. 

The White Tiger is a thrilling drama that feels refreshing and fresh. The cinematography Paolo Carnera (Gomorrah, ZeroZeroZero) creates an interesting atmosphere of centered shots and strategic framing (that showcase how close the rich and poor are in cities), that give the film a welcome dose of prestige. If you are looking for a movie that features excellent acting, direction and cinematography, I totally recommend you check it out The White Tiger on Netflix.

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