“The White Tiger” (Netflix)

Widespread, unimaginable poverty, corruption, an embedded and routinely practiced caste system that appears to successfully marginalize both poor and Muslims alike–this is the India documented in such excellent books as  Rohinton Mistry’s, 1995 epic A Fine Balance and more recently The White Tiger, the Man Booker prize- winning novel the movie is based on, published in 2008. The film stays true in tone to the book. Although billed as a “dark, satirical comedy”, it is definitely not a laugh out loud kinda film. Rather, it is a compelling and sardonic commentary on the lack of access of the many to technology and wealth in a paradoxically global economy, the enormous disjuncture between the official designation of India as a “democracy” and the fact that nearly two thirds of the country live in poverty, without hope of rising. Because White Tiger is a satire of sorts, the characters are not fully developed as individuals. And that is intentional–they are representative, not unique. And yet, you believe that they are who they are, in part because the acting is superb and the cinematography so strong. If you are like me and have never been to India, this Dickensian rags to riches, dark tale will not increase your desire to visit. But what it might do is encourage the casting of a cold eye on our own flawed democracy: 10 percent poverty, an enduring racial caste system, ever increasing homeless populations living in encampments not unlike the squalor depicted in White Tiger. I would love further discussion and as usual I invite you all to produce a counter review or add a comment.

4 Comments

  1. Terrific writing my friend. Have you read Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Boo? Same horrific non-fiction dive into the India no one wants to visit

    Sorry haven’t gotten to the greens n beans recipe but I will!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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