“I’m just one who has woken up while the rest of you are still sleeping,” says the servant Balram (Adarsh Gourav) in the first trailer for the Netflix film “The White Tiger.” Based on the prestigious Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, the film chronicles Balram’s rags-to-riches life story against the backdrop of India’s globalizing economy and political corruption. “The White Tiger” will debut in select theaters in December and drops on the streaming service in January. Watch the teaser trailer above.
Though the opening scenes of the trailer highlight the film’s humor — Balram praises the blatantly poor tennis skills of his master Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), saying he could “represent India in the Olympics” — the tenor changes when Ashok’s wife Pinky Madam (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) asks Balram about his higher aspirations. After experiencing Ashok’s political and personal abuses first-hand, Balram violently “breaks free” of both his master and the oppressive constraints of his social position; he sees himself as the “white tiger” of the film’s title, a “creature that gets born only once a generation.”
Adapted and directed by Ramin Bahrani, an Emmy and PGA nominee for “Fahrenheit 451,” “White Tiger” pays homage to other films with literary source material. “I was trapped, and don’t believe for a second there’s a million-rupee game show you can win to get out of it,” Balram tells the audience in the trailer, a wink toward the film “Slumdog Millionaire” that won Best Picture, Director (Danny Boyle), Adapted Screenplay and five other trophies at the 2009 Oscars.
Other book-to-film adaptations about contemporary India have proven fruitful at the Oscars. “Life of Pi” bagged Best Director for Ang Lee in 2012 as well as Best Cinematography (Claudio Miranda), Best Original Score (Mychael Danna) and Best Visual Effect. “Lion” earned six nominations in 2016 including one for Adapted Screenplay.
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