The White Tiger Trailer Breakdown
The White Tiger Trailer just dropped on Netflix and we can't keep calm!
The White Tiger is a New York Times bestselling novel by Arvind Adiga that is coming to a screen near you as a Netflix film adaptation.
The trailer begins with status quo. A row of servants, rich people with big houses and fancy cars. We see Balram (Adarsh Gourav), the driver, who works for a couple that is giving off major NRI vibes. He develops a great relationship with his boss played by Rajkummar Rao. In voiceover, he says that the need to serve other people was inculcated in him since birth. Even though he’s a driver, we see him doing all kinds of odd jobs for his employers. From beating carpets, to running around the court picking up tennis balls. He’s a sycophant and a people pleaser.
The wife (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) asks him if he wants more from his life. The couple appears to be a relaxed, liberal, 30 something couple that doesn’t believe in the old world order. It seems they want to transcend caste and class politics and provide a space for thinking and questioning to Balram.
But things aren’t that easy. We are immediately taken into the underbelly of this master-servant relationship. While the master might seem benevolent, he is also aware of his privilege and likes it. We see him slapping Balram in anger. Changing a system will lead to friction. Caste and class politics have pervaded Indian society for centuries. And as Adarsh Gourav’s voice tells us “… don't believe for a second there is a million dollar game show you can win to get out of here”. Love the shoutout to Slumdog Millionaire, but it’s also recognising the absurd premise of that movie. The White Tiger, instead is rooted in reality.
Balram, who’s been given the freedom of thought, no longer wants to be the subservient tool of convenience. He wants to break free. He needs to be the “white tiger”, an animal born once in a generation. A voiceover narrating this is layered with images of violence, fire, madness, money.
Towards the end of the trailer, we see Balram standing next to a sign that says White Tiger Drivers with an army of drivers standing next to him. It appears then, that this is a rags to riches tale, but the ominous music also hints that this story is more complicated.
I’ve read the book and while Adiga is an excellent writer, he is still a rich man writing a story about a poor man. There are several characterisations of Balram in the book that pander to easy stereotypes. I hope that the movie is able to bring a more nuanced approach to the story and from the looks of the trailer, it seems like it has succeeded.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas brings yet another ambitious Indian project to audiences globally as a producer on the film. It is truly exciting to see her evolve into this new role. The trailer is excellent and teases enough plot points without giving anything away. This film will be highly anticipated in the new year.