Aravinda Adiga’s ambitious novel The White Tiger is about class conflict erupting into an individual’s civil war against his employers. It is a hardhitting futuristic novel…at least I hope it is futuristic, I wouldn’t want my driver slapping me around while I am asleep…brought to film by actors who seem to believe that high drama is the solution for all social evil. Every actor in the trailer of Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger speaks in a high-pitched shrill voice that indicates they take the film and its socialist message very seriously.
The driver protagonist Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav) speaks in English. We are happy that he is so well- educated. But drivers of well-to-do Delhi families do no converse with their employers in angrezi. Balram speaks English as though it were the accepted language of communication of the working class.
From this huge linguistic liberty the trailer of The White Tiger moves into top-gear absurdity. In one sequence after a road accident Balram is asked to sign a confession that he was alone in the car when the accident happened. He then has a wake-up moment, a funny moment of epiphany, where he decides he will master his masters.
“I am just one of those who has woken up while the rest of you were sleeping,” Balram tells us in that scary wake-up voice I last heard in Parasites.
We were not sleeping, I promise you. Who can sleep through that background score in the trailer? It sounds like a janta –jagao banshee meant to drive away the Covid keeda. With both Rajkummar Rao and Priyanka Chopra miscast as the Sahib and his Begum, it is up to Adarsh Gourav to keep the plot believable. And he, poor chap, is already at a disadvantage speaking in a language that drivers in India don’t speak in. Unless the driver is employed by Shashi Tharoor.
Image source: SpotboyE archive
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