The White Tiger review round-up: Critics call the film an 'immersive plunge' with 'magnetic performances'

Critics said that Netflix film The White Tiger is a 'damning critique' of Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionare

FP Staff January 06, 2021 14:26:59 IST
The White Tiger review round-up: Critics call the film an 'immersive plunge' with 'magnetic performances'

Still from The White Tiger. Image from Twitter

The first reviews of Priyanka Chopra and Rajkummar Rao's Netflix thriller The White Tiger, an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's Man Booker Prize winning novel, are now out.

The story charts Balram's (Adarsh Gaurav) journey, who works as a driver for a wealthy businessman, played by Rajkummar Rao. He is ridiculed by his employers for his underprivileged background and is forced to take the fall for a crime he didn't commit, after which he becomes a successful entrepreneur. Priyanka Chopra Jonas stars as Pinky Madam, a first-generation immigrant in the US, who is married to Rao's character Ashok.

Netflix’s The White Tiger has been written for the screen and directed by Ramin Bahrani. Chopra is also the executive producer of the film along with Emmy award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay.

Here's what the critics are saying:

The Hollywood Reporter: "An immersive plunge into the chasm separating the servant class from the rich in contemporary India, the drama observes corruption at the highest and lowest levels with its tale of innocence lost and tables turned. If there's simply too much novelistic incident stuffed into the overlong film's Dickensian sprawl, the three leads' magnetic performances and the surprising twists of the story keep you engrossed."

The Guardian: "The White Tiger is a dangerous adventure of self-betterment from the teeming city streets, influenced by Adiga’s own avowed love of Dickens and Balzac, and it’s a really enjoyable story, though not without flaws. I could have done without Balram introducing himself through the hackneyed 90s device of the freeze-frame/voiceover, bringing us into his story at its highest moment of car-crash drama and tragedy – everything but a needle-scratch into silence. It makes for a slightly misjudged moment of irony. And it is arguably unconvincing that, having shown us how the ruling classes can get away with murder because the lower-caste victims are all disposably alike, the film suggests that servants could also get away with it because they are all indistinguishable. It can’t be as easy as that."

IndieWire called the film "fast, lucid, and sometimes faithful-to-a-fault adaptation and "...like such a damning critique of Danny Boyle’s slickly subaltern fairy tale [Slumdog Millionaire] that it almost feels like a direct rebuttal."

Screen International: "The White Tiger is enough to make the casual Western viewer prickle with unease over the sentimentality of Slumdog Millionaire, say, or Lion, yet this no-holds-barred takedown of “the world’s greatest democracy” can also feel like a blunt instrument aimed at that very same casual Western viewer (only more of them, via Netflix). Certainly, its themes of societal overthrow, of how the future belongs to the dark-skinned underclass, are wickedly appealing and resonate far outside their physical setting. A film of a bumpy, brilliant debut novel which was ground-breaking at the time, Bahrami’s propulsive piece dazzles, and quibbles are easily quelled, even over 124 minutes."

EW noted, "The movie also has the indelible presence of Gourav, a largely unknown actor whose soulful combination of sheer will and vulnerability should, in a just world, win him the kind of accolades that helped make Slumdog's Dev Patel a star. He plays Balram, a boy born into the kind of abject poverty that is less a circumstance than a life sentence. But for a few rare dreamers — the kind exceptional enough to earn the name White Tiger — that outcome is elastic, as bendable as a spoon.

Paste Magazine: "The White Tiger is certainly smarter and better-made than its straight-faced bootstrapping streaming service compatriot Hillbilly Elegy, showing that the simplest way to get out from under a system that’s oppressing you is to embrace its worst qualities and become a single-minded sociopath, but it remains ultimately unfulfilling as a satire and a drama that simultaneously overexplains itself and never gets mean enough."

The film will have a limited release on 13 January, followed by a Netflix premiere on 22 January. Watch the trailer here –

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