EXCLUSIVE: For nearly 15 years, director Ramin Bahrani and novelist Aravind Adiga shared a symbiotic relationship of inspiration that culminated into Netflix’s rags-to-riches drama The White Tiger.
Bahrani’s 2005 feature Man Push Cart inspired Adiga, a former Columbia University classmate, to write The White Tiger, a searing novel about one man’s determination to rise through the ranks of India’s caste system. Upon reading Adiga’s early drafts before White Tiger published in 2008, Bahrani knew he had to adapt it for the big screen.
“I had been reading the novel in draft form for four years before it was published. I was immediately riveted,” Bahrani said during the film’s panel for Deadline’s Contenders Film.
The White Tiger follows low-caste Balram (Adarsh Gourav) as he strives for upward mobility amid India and China’s growth as global superpowers. Hired to chauffeur affluent Americanized entrepreneur Ashok (Rajkumma Rao) and his wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas), Balram discovers the dark truths and inequalities of the classist system and makes them work in his favor.
For Bahrani, adapting the novel for screen came with the challenges of staying true to Adiga’s playful and sarcastic tone. In order to capture Balram’s witty yet unraveling mind, the director tried out a cinematic method he said he’s never attempted in previous features: first-person narration.
The White Tiger is produced by Mukul Deora and executive produced by Chopra Jonas, Ken Kamins, Paul Ritchie, Prem Akkaraju, Ava DuVernay and Sarah Bremner. The film premiered on Netflix on January 22.
Read Bahrani’s script below.
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