Netflix’s ‘The White Tiger’ Tackles Pressing Social Issues

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    Spoiler Free Review

    The White Tiger is an American crime/ drama film based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 novel of the same name. The movie tackles powerful themes such as corruption, ambition and the divide between the rich and poor. The story takes place in India and narrates the life of an ambitious Indian driver who uses his wits to escape the clutches of poverty to make it to the top. The story revolves around the life of Balram Halwai and the struggles he had faced not only as a child but also as a grown man.

    The white tiger opens up discussions surrounding the dysfunctional caste system that taints India. It also magnifies the modern day equivalent of slavery that still exists in many countries due to the vast wealth gap. The plotline is riddled with complications and moments of suspense due to the complexities of the themes addressed in this film. Early on, it becomes obvious who are the abusers and who are the victims as the story begins in village in which the rich and powerful hold complete authority.

    The tales of corruption are long standing ones that have existed for many centuries but are becoming more relevant during times of wage inequality. The complications of gaining a functional education are addressed during the film and it focuses on the struggles of a poor village boy who finds himself at a dead end due to nonexistent financial support. The White Tiger documents the life a village boy who has to overcome numerous hurdles only to become the slave of a rich man who had built the system he grew up in.

    The film is 2h 3m and was originally released on January 13 2021 (USA). It has received outstanding praises, having been given a Metacritic score of 76% and a rotten tomatoes score of 90%. The film received a 7.2/10 form IMDB and is liked by 86% of Google Users. The film is currently only available on Netflix and was internationally released on the 22nd of January 2021. The film will surely hold up over time due to issues conveyed and how topical they are considering modern times. The White Tiger is definitely a gateway film that taps into existing problems without overplaying cultural stereotypes, allowing for more serious discussion to emerge.

    Caste System

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    Certain parts of India still glorifies the caste system that seems to divide people based on historical past. This has tragically effected the younger generation who are merely trying to move on with their lives and live for the sake of a better future. An individual is given value based on his/her birthright and will forever be trapped with the given title. In some cases love has been at a standstill due to conflict based on caste, and millions are forced into silence for a choice they never even made.

    The White Tiger as a film emphasizes the struggles faced by a man born in a lower caste and the need to constantly serve those above him. This form of hierarchy has corrupted the minds of millions making them servants to a system that doesn’t even represent their beliefs. The need to please others has been embedded in the minds of the youth as they are void of originality and live to be the puppets that are played by the wealthy. The White Tiger shows the near impossibility to escape such a deeply rooted system that is tied down on the basis of religion.

    Balram is a student of fantastic academic ability yet he is forced to forgo his studies and work in order to support his family at a very young age. Those born into a lower caste are not given the same emphasis in regards to education and as portrayed in the film, stereotypes are extremely relevant when it comes to certain castes. The White Tiger manages to spotlight the biases that are evident in terms of classification by caste and the prejudices that people hold towards certain groups of people.


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    Corruption has been the backbone of politics for many countries. The rich forever monopolizes the political system leaving the poor to suffer unseen. The White Tiger shines the light on the corruption scene that spans across India’s political system. The film shows the power a rich man has over a poor country and the abuse of power that is exercised by ministry officials. All the systems that are put in place for the sake of the people end up betraying the people altogether just for the sake of profits. The lack of integrity causes even the noblest of men to make drastic changes.

    The film shows that the administration has normalized corruption and allowed it to exist as a functional system. The film is titled The White Tiger as this species is a rare breed that is slowly dying off and it represents Balram as he tries to break out of a flawed system that glorifies corruption, however he too becomes a victim of this and this causes the film to lose some level of integrity. It would be more refreshing to have Balram take a more noble approach that doesn’t lean on the principles of ‘if you cant beat them, join them’.

    The white tiger is an animal that is dying off due to the inability to survive in the wild having been dealt the wrong set of cards or in this case mutations that cause disadvantages in terms of camouflage. Balram was also dealt a shitty hand and was forced to survive in a corrupt place that ran on the premise of wealth and power. He saw no way out and capitalized on a flawed system to break free and seek personal independence. A corrupt world will forever push individuals to the extreme in order to be heard and the film The White Tiger manages to represent that point brilliantly.

    No Way Out

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    Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) is a driver/servant for Pinky Madam (Priyanka Chopra) and Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and he is forced to obey every command given to him. Both Pinky and Ashok seem reasonable at first but the true struggle is dealing with ‘The Mongoose’ (Vijay Maurya) and ‘The Stork’ (Mahesh Manjrekar) who are both extremely unreasonable. Balram is put in difficult positions many times and is faced with constant conflict throughput the film.

    Balram may be likened to the white tiger but it is evident he does not have any form of aggressiveness early on but that trait slowly seeps in as the plot progresses. Balram represents the millions of people who are forced into silence due to the inability to react. In this case, Balram would have to think about the safety of his family when it came to defying his masters. He was burdened with traditional rules such as arranged marriage that held him back from ever progressing in life. He lived in a system that didn’t offer any opportunities and there were minimal options to leave.

    Ashok who was the son of ‘The Stork’ likened the uneducated lower class as an untapped market that could potentially change the future of the country. Thus, The White Tiger is a film that represents the people who have the potential but lack the resources to present themselves to the modern world. A backward mindset and confined rules have created a monotonous system, lacking creativity that strives on a monopoly controlled by a select few.

    A Better End

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    The White Tiger is a film that tackles complex social issues but lacks a potential solution. The film ends with questionable morality and leaves the viewers feeling quite unfulfilled at the end. It definitely deserves a place in crime/drama but such a powerful film could have had a more well thought out ending. The storyline of The White Tiger would have benefited from a more solid resolution that empowered the viewers but regardless it chose to amplify the notion of no escape making the film even more thrilling for a casual watch.

    Overall The White Tiger is a phenomenal film that will definitely be able to connect with viewers worldwide. It opens up more discussions relating to social issues faced in India and it puts viewers in the shoes of an average man who faces extreme struggles. Everyone deserves a shot at life and maybe modern day slavery isn’t so far fetched in certain parts of the world. The White Tiger is raw and doesn’t choose to gloss over reality and this allows the film to connect with individuals on both sides of the coin.

    The White Tiger managed to convey emotions surrounding pressing issues in a very realistic manner which allows the viewers to truly explore such a wide range of emotions whilst watching the struggles faced by Balram. The cinematography captured the essence of a rural lifestyle and transported the viewers to the exact location further setting the scene for the entire film. The slow moving nature of the film was wonderfully complemented with cinematic shots that resonated meaning and were full of history in their own right. Overall this film is worth a watch and it will surely cater to everyone is one way or another.

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