Ramin Bahrani interview: ‘The White Tiger’ director
“It’s a story about a man who wants to be free,” declares “The White Tiger” writer/director Ramin Bahrani about what ultimately underpins the narrative of his sprawling epic. “He wants to be free to reach his full potential as a human being and society is not giving him that chance. It’s been rigged against him because of where he was born and what lot in life he was born into.” We talked with Bahrani as part of Gold Derby’s special “Meet the Experts” Q&A event with key 2021 guild and Oscar contenders. Watch our interview above.
“The White Tiger,” which Bahrani adapted from Aravind Adiga‘s acclaimed novel of the same name, follows Balram, a poor Indian driver (Adarsh Gourav), who embarks on an epic journey to break free from the shackles of servitude to his rich masters to forge hi sown destiny and rise to the top of the heap as an entrepreneur. It’s an unflinching portrait of the poverty, corruption and inequality that are entrenched within Indian society, as Balram has to overcome his lot in life to realize his potential.
Much like the original source material, Bahrani’s Indian odyssey is captivating and propulsive. It tells this story through Balram’s unique point of view, flashing back to moments in his journey from servitude. The director credits much of the film’s energy to leading man Gourav, in his first feature leading role.
“I got lucky because we found this really incredible actor, Adarsh. That was a huge gift to the movie because of his talent and skill as a newcomer. There was a lot of investment in the script and the shooting of the film about how to get an audience hooked into him and how to start to layer in that something bad is going to happen,” he explains, noting that the film acknowledges early on that Balram is wanted by the police. “It was really about trying to chart what were the steps that got him to that moment and how was his mind starting to become unhinged under the pressure. And then trying to pull an audience back with him in the end of the film and see how he had changed in a way to be better than his masters.”
The Iranian-American writer/director is best known for his acclaimed feature films “Socrates,” “99 Homes,” “Man Push Cart” and “Chop Shop,” for which he was nominated as best Director at the 2009 Independent Spirit Awards, and for TV movie adaptation “Fahrenheit 451,” for which he was nominated at the 2018 Emmys for Best TV Movie.