TV & Movies

Netflix's The White Tiger Has Major Parasite Vibes

It's based on a 2008 novel of the same name.

by Jessica Lachenal

Netflix's latest movie, The White Tiger, is being heralded as "the anti-Slumdog Millionaire." But a more apt comparison for the film might be last year's Oscar winner, Parasite. Based on the 2008 Aravind Adiga novel, The White Tiger is a look at the upper class through the eyes of a servant.

The White Tiger tells the story of Balram (Adarsh Gourav), a young man who finds himself going from working in a teashop in Dhanbad, India to being a chauffeur for a man named Ashok (Rajkummar Rao), the son of a corrupt coal magnate. Along the way, he struggles with being treated as little more than a servant or slave to the wealthy family, and it comes to a head when he's tasked with admitting to a murder he didn't commit.

According to the review of The White Tiger, the film closely follows the story as it's laid out in Adiga's novel. While much of the book and film focuses on Balram's journey into the world of India's elite, the plot also centers on Balram's murder confession. One night Ashok's wife, Pinky Madam (played in the film by Priyanka Chopra Jonas), drunkenly takes the wheel from Balram while driving and fatally strikes a child. Rather than let her face punishment for her crime, Ashok's family pressures Balram to sign a confession and take the fall for her.

It's there that Balram is left with a decision: take the fall or carry out a plan to exact a bloody, brutal revenge on his masters. Ultimately, Balram decides on revenge, and murders Ashok, crushing his skull with a broken bottle as he drives him around on a task to pay out bribes to government officials. Balram escapes to Bangalore, where he uses the money to bribe police officers and to start his own taxi service catering to call center workers.

By the end of the book, Balram figures that Ashok's family has already found out about his betrayal, and assumes they've already exacted their revenge on his family. Ultimately, Balram concludes that his family is better off dead rather than living in poverty and servitude as he once did.