the white tiger trailer

In 2008, Indian author Aravind Adiga published The White Tiger, a searing, darkly comic account of the underbelly of Indian society and the horrifying lengths that one man would take to break out of its rigid class structure. It was an astounding debut novel, especially coming in the same year that the notoriously sentimental Slumdog Millionaire became an awards darling by painting a fairy tale picture of that same impoverished class of people. But “don’t believe for a second there’s a million-rupee game show you can win to get out of it,” the serving-class protagonist (Adarsh Gourav) of The White Tiger cheekily remarks in the recently released trailer, making a dig at the feel-good Danny Boyle film in Netflix’s feature adaptation of Adiga’s acclaimed novel. Watch The White Tiger trailer, which also stars Priyanka Chopra, who executive produces the film, below.

The White Tiger Trailer

In The White Tiger, Adarsh Gourav stars as Balram Halwai, a poor villager who by his own admission, was conditioned “to serve,” earning a job as a driver for a wealthy couple, Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas), recently returned from America. But Balram becomes disillusioned with the corruption and wealth disparity that he witnesses and endeavors to break free from India’s rigid class system — even at the cost of others’ lives.

I remember reading The White Tiger in high school and being struck by its brutal and darkly comic portrayal of India’s class system — a feature that Adiga earned both acclaim (winning the 40th Man Booker Prize that year) and criticism for. But I wonder how The White Tiger will play in a post-Parasite world; the novel’s cynical exploration of wealth and class feels even more relevant today, and one that will appeal even more to audiences hungry for more “eat the rich” films in the wake of Bong Joon-ho’s Oscar-winning film.

Here is the synopsis for The White Tiger:

Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) narrates his epic and darkly humorous rise from poor villager to successful entrepreneur in modern India. Cunning and ambitious, our young hero jockeys his way into becoming a driver for Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and Pinky (Priyanka Chopra-Jonas), who have just returned from America. Society has trained Balram to be one thing — a servant — so he makes himself indispensable to his rich masters. But after a night of betrayal, he realizes the corrupt lengths they will go to trap him and save themselves. On the verge of losing everything, Balram rebels against a rigged and unequal system to rise up and become a new kind of master. Based on the New York Times bestseller and 2008 Man Booker Prize-winning novel.

The White Tiger hits Netflix on January 22, 2020.

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