How the Unparalleled ‘The White Tiger’ Film Succeeded

The White Tiger movie took over a decade to make, but it was worth it in the end!

Adaptations Book Culture Fiction On This Day Pop Culture Recommendations
Balram Halwai sitting in the front seat behind the wheel with Pinky Shah and Ashok Shah sitting in the backseat.

The White Tiger movie came out in 2021, directed by Ramin Bahrani, based on Aravind Adiga’s 2008 book by the same name. The adaptation was popular around the world and liked by both critics and audiences. The movie catches the novel’s grittiness and the dark themes that envelop it. Read on to find out more!

Bahrani Worked with Adiga

Balram standing in the front of several others
IMAGE VIA NETFLIX

Adiga and Bahrani became friends in the ’90s, long before the book was published. Bahrani read some of the novel’s early drafts, and he loved the story. When he was made the director, he worked with Adiga and did his best to bring as many great aspects of the book to the movie as possible. When writers are involved in creating the movie adaptation, the result is usually that the movie is better and sticks closer to the book.

The Movie Closely Followed the Book

Balram sitting in a car and drinking
IMAGE VIA NETFLIX

Movies tend to do better when they stick closer to the books, and that’s what The White Tiger did. Some details are different — in the movie, Dharam’s character isn’t explored as much, and Pinky’s character is more developed in the movie than in the book — but much of the movie is just like the book. The novel’s grittiness, the plot, and its details show India’s caste system and society, they are all similar in the movie.

Balram’s Voiceover

IMAGE VIA NETFLIX

Novels in first person perspective don’t always translate well in movies, since movies don’t let the audience get in the main character’s head. They don’t see what the character sees anymore. That’s why having Balram narrate throughout the movie was a good choice. Audiences can still get his perspective, his voice, even though we’re watching it from a third-person point of view. His narration helps the audience understand his opinions and views on people, events, etc.

The Two Sides of Balram

Balram watching as a paper burns in his hand
IMAGE VIA NETFLIX

The whole book/movie is about Balram talking about his past. He tries to change events so he looks more sympathetic in his narration, but his real actions are shown on screen. There are other changes as well, such as in his behavior and wardrobe, all that signify his eventual change from poor to rich, from servant to master. It’s interesting to watch the changes slowly happen, as well as see the contrast between how Balram was and how he said he was.

There are lots of great things about the adaptation. While the book may still be better, the movie is beloved by both those who read the book and those who didn’t; and for good reason.


For another article on The White Tiger, click here.

To browse our Adaptation Bookshop Shelf, click here.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA NETFLIX