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The White Tiger

‘The White Tiger’ is a rags to riches story many have previously seen. It’s an oft-told tale of the underdog rising from an impoverished life to one of limitless dreams. Some may think ‘The White Tiger’, with its mostly Indian cast, is this decade’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. It has a few strands feeling familiar, but ‘The White Tiger’ has its own zesty energy. Based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel, ‘The White Tiger’ is a captivating essay in determination and reaching for the stars.

Coming from a poor Indian village, Balram (Adarsh Gourav) wants a better life. Bluffing his way into meeting The Stork, one of India’s wealthiest people, Balram becomes a Chauffer for Stork’s son Ashtok (Rajkummar Rao) and his American raised wife Pinky (Chopra Jonas). Witnessing firsthand the attitudes the rich have over the poorer classes, Balram sets out to carve his own slice of their wealth. Events lead him along several unexpected avenues with the power of ambition driving him.

Directing from his own screenplay, Ramin Bahrani successfully teases out ‘The White Tiger’s’ emotional and physical strengths. He is well served by Gourav’s strong central performance. Balram is a character refusing to be trapped in a life his family have always known. Unlike others who are resigned to their fate, his aspirational ideals push him to grab opportunities. While the way he goes out doing so may potentially be morally wrong, Balram knows other people in similar circumstances would do exactly the same thing.

‘The White Tiger’ has a mix of styles key to its success. Drama, humour and a dash of action meld together to create a captivating narrative. Despite being somewhat drawn out, you can forgive any pacing issues due to the engaging story-telling. India’s vast vistas add much to this style, looking suitably stunning. The cinematography and story doesn’t shy away from the country’s harsher aspects but is no less interesting in how it forms the psyche of those living there.

Movies about chasing dreams any way possible continue to thrive. ‘The White King’ is the latest giving it another spin in a colourful way. Pursuing goals and achieving them is part of daily life, which is why films like ‘The White King’ thrive with audiences always daring to reach for the skies.

Rating out of 10: 8

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