Many have compared The White Tiger with the Oscar award-winning film, Slumdog Millionaire but it might be unfair to do so. The latter lacked a multitude and displayed only a section of India to appease the minds of the white supremacists who believe India to be a land of the poor people. It wouldn't be surprising if by now, many non-Indian moviegoers, why are all the rags to riches stories about India based on a tea-seller? This includes the current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi too.
John Oliver in his comedy show had said, "Modi sold tea at a railways station and now he is the most popular man in the country. Don't pretend you are not interested in this America. The last time you heard a rag to riches story about a tea-selling Indian kid, you threw a f***ing Oscar at it! (Displayed poster of Slumdog Millionaire on screen) And you love that more than The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Come on!"
The White Tiger also had verbal references to the vision of India which Modi uses during his political campaigns; 'New India,' 'Digital India' the rise of a backward leader to a mass leader. Although The White Tiger had been written in the year 2008, (when PM Modi had been a Chief Minister of Gujarat and hardly thought to be the next Prime Minister of the country), the references were hard to miss.
When you unravel the layers, The White Tiger breaks a lot of stereotypes. We get a glimpse of rich Indians, westernized Indians, Indian women who wear western outfits in the presence of in-laws, naive Indians, cunning Indians, and finally the digital India, where the entire narrative cinematographically and geographically moves to Bangalore, which is considered to be the tech-hub of India. The White Tiger is a more personal journey that is vastly different from Slumdog Millionaire.
Bollywood Insider Vs Outsiders
The battle of Insider versus outsider started in the Hindi film industry much before 'nepotism' became a raging topic after a frivolous chat show. Priyanka Chopra, who had rightfully earned the title of Miss World, did not get an easy entrance. She had been mocked for her accent, boycotted by the mighty ones, in the name of fun. Even when she had reached global stardom, Kareena Kapoor Khan had subtly mocked both Deepika and PC for catching the bus to Hollywood. In a way, she expressed her happiness that they were leaving Bollywood which would mean more work for her and Sonam Kapoor in the local domain, who was also a guest in the show. Kareena had quickly covered by a compliment, much of which seemed forced.
Rajkummar Rao who also made his mark in the Hindi film industry, gained stardom in the year 2017 after a series of releases such as Trapped, Behen Hogi Teri, Newton, Bareilly Ki Barfi, Shaadi Main Zaroor Ana and the web-series Bose: Dead or Alive. In various interviews, he had opened up about being replaced by a producer for not attaining the bankability of a star kid.
Adarsh Gourav has not yet given plenty of interviews where he could have had the chance to share his struggle in the film industry. However, he previously worked with Karan Johar-Shah Rukh Khan in My Name Is Khan, before he gained prominence for his role in The White Tiger.
A film to be celebrated not debated
If The White Tiger grabs a win at the Oscars, the moment should be celebrated, not debated on whether or not Americans have yet again chosen to award a film that glorifies the poverty in India. If anything, the makers have remained careful and have avoided glorification, rather delved into reality and brought out the change the country is going through in the present era.
Social media activists who share their concern for outsiders such as late actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Ayushmann Khurrana, Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Randeep Hooda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vineet Kumar needs to do more than hammering their keyboards and actually pay and watch the content that can help these bright talents.