Parents' Guide to

The White Tiger

By Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Compelling dark dramedy has violence, language.

Movie R 2021 125 minutes
The White Tiger Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 16+

a nuanced and violent depiction of class hierarchies

A fantastic depiction of the complicated and violent relationship between masters and their servants. A too common occurrence that is largely unexamined, how disposable we are conditioned to see too many human beings. The film is light and funny until it is not and then it is dark and its criticism is sharp. A wonderful film that grabs a hold of its audience and doesn't let go until the end. Do we root for him? Do we not? I think the response is that it's complicated and much more nuanced than yes or no.
age 14+

Violence throughout

This movie contains some disturbing scenes of violence scattered throughout. Lots of physical abuse like slapping, hitting and kicking. A man gets shot in the head execution style, another gets repeatedly bludgeoned with a brick as a deceased womans bludgeoned body lays next to him. Old women gets stabbed in the stomach. Person gets run over by car. People shot with a shotgun trying to flee. Man is repeatedly stabbed and his throat is slit. Child's body is shown in the street after being hit by a taxi. Despite the occasional gore and violence it's was a good movie and none of the scenes felt extended. There is definitely a much bigger story line and the above scenes are not the primary focus. However, I couldn't think of any great life lesson to tie into this movie for my teens except maybe exactly how not to treat people.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2 ):
Kids say (3 ):

This gritty drama about class inequality in India will resonate with viewers from all around the world. In a voiceover narration set up as a letter from the main character to the visiting premier of China, Balram asserts that where there used to be a thousand castes in India, now there are only two: men with big bellies and men with small bellies. It's only when he throws off the shackles of servitude by cheating his "master" out of money that he says his belly begins to grow. It's just one example of how the untrustworthy narrator of The White Tiger blends dark humor with social critique in a mix that is compelling, entertaining, and distressing all at once. The film plays out in two contrasting hours, much like South Korean satire Parasite, with which it will doubtless be compared. The first hour feels like a slightly quirky rags-to-riches dramatic comedy; the second hour, beginning with an accident foreshadowed in the introduction, spirals downward into darker drama and crime. Both parts are driven by a subtle and convincing performance by Adarsh Gourav as Balram.

The White Tiger pulls no punches in its clear-eyed depiction of class inequalities, corruption, and violence in India, where a man of Balram's status is born into layers of servitude. "I was trapped in the rooster coop," Balram states of his and other servants' resignation to their fate. "And don't believe for a second there's a million-rupee game show you can win to get out of it." A show, maybe, like the one that saves a man like Balram in 2008's Slumdog Millionaire. Balram's narrative is so laden with social commentary, you have to pay close attention not to miss any of his one-liners. He sneers at the idea of India as the world's "largest democracy" and watches as a politician known as "The Great Socialist" wins the poor vote with one hand and arrogantly bribes wealthy business owners with the other. He vows if he were elected leader of India, he'd focus on sewage pipes before democracy. He declares the future belongs to India and China, not America, and yet the America-raised and –educated Pinky is the film's most egalitarian and generous character. As the title hints, the film also plays with animal symbolism for dramatic (caged roosters and tigers, cawing crows) and comedic (cows, "the most well-fed members" of the family) effect.

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