THE WHITE TIGER – Review by Susan Granger

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“The Indian entrepreneur has to be straight and crooked, mocking and believing, sly and sincere – all at the same time,” says Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourv) as an introduction to India’s immobile, insidiously complex caste system.

Balham comes from lowly candy-makers. A precocious student, Balram’s potential is so stellar that he’s dubbed “a white tiger,” indicating he’s a rare, symbolic, once-in-a-generation phenomenon.

But he has no money to complete his education, and his impoverished, ancestral village is ruled by a ruthless landlord and his sons. When Balram first sees the youngest son Ashok (Rajkummer Rao), who has just returned from America, he’s determined that this young man will be his new ‘master.’

Intelligent and observant, Balram learns there’s great opportunity as a driver for wealthy families and Ashok, who is married to Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), an outspoken American, needs a chauffeur.

When Ashok and Pinky do business in New Dehli, Balram’s behind the wheel. While they’re ensconced in an opulent Sheraton Hotel suite, Balram’s housed in a squalid hovel in the parking garage.

Then, one booze-filled night, Pinky insists on driving and a tragic accident occurs. Compliant Balram is not only blamed but also forced to sign a false confession.

Alluding to Slumdog Millionaire, he adds: “Don’t think there’s a million-rupee game show you can win to get out of it.”

With deceit, deception and betrayal lurking in every corner, wily Balram realizes what he must do to secure his future in the carnivorous class struggle: “Do we loathe our masters behind a façade of love, or do we love them behind a façade of loathing?”

“America is so yesterday. India is so tomorrow,” he asserts. “The future of the world lies with the yellow man and the brown man.”

Adapted and directed by Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes) from Arvind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel, it chronicles rascally Balram’s rags-to-riches rise in modern-day India – thanks to karma and immersive cinematographer Paolo Carnera.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, The White Tiger is a scathing 7, a cynical crime saga.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.