Thursday, January 21, 2021

Movie with Abe: The White Tiger

The White Tiger
Directed by Ramin Bahrani
Released January 22, 2021 (Netflix)

Many people who work their way from the metaphorical – or literal – mailroom of a company all the way up to becoming the boss will surely not forget the way that they were treated when they were among the lowest-ranking employees. Those with power tend to rely on those with less to do their bidding, and there are different management styles that communicate a level of respect, or a lack of one, for those being paid to do what may not be deemed worthy of an executive’s time. Being kind and reasonable should be standard, but unfortunately that’s very often not the case.

Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) is born in poverty in a small village in India. As he grows up, he uses his experience serving others to get himself hired for a plush job driving Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), the son of a wealthy landlord, and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas). They seem to notice and respect him more than many of those they associate with, but still don’t treat him as anything near an equal. When an unforeseen event forces them to cover up a secret, Balram must confront how far he is willing to go to help people he doesn’t believe would do the same for him if the roles were reversed.

This film is based on the celebrated 2008 novel, and comes from director Ramin Bahrani, whose initial works, “Man Push Cart,” “Chop Shop,” and “Goodbye Solo,” earned him much acclaim. Another recent film, “99 Homes,” was an involving and memorable exploration of class differences and societal flaws. This film does cover some of the same themes but is presented more as a flashy rags-to-riches story featuring a protagonist proud of his achievements happy to share his past but not eager to return to a life he has left behind.

The way in which Balram narrates his story exudes an overconfidence that defines this film, which presents its events in a showy fashion. At least in the way that it comes off here, this story doesn’t feel all that creative or fresh, and though Balram and Ashok get decent showcases, Pinky’s character isn’t terribly fleshed-out, and seems like she might have been more interesting had she been given more of a focus. This film is engaging and entertaining enough, but there’s nothing inherently remarkable about it that serves to distinguish it from other character pieces about someone climbing their way to the top.


No comments: