Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name by Aravind Adiga, ‘The White Tiger’ explores a man’s inherent pursuit of freedom, success, and individuality in the Indian context. The film tells the story of Balram Halwai (Adarsh Gourav). Born in servitude, he claws his way out of his circumstances through cunning and violence. His triumph over the seemingly insurmountable obstacles put forth by his casteist and classist society marks him as the ideal candidate for the eponymous metaphor, a creature born only once in a generation. If you loved ‘The White Tiger’ and are interested in similar content, here are the 7 best options. You can watch most of these movies similar to ‘The White Tiger’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
7. Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Danny Boyle’s Oscar-winning venture is one of those films that unflinchingly portrays India’s abject poverty. It follows Jamal Malik as he grows up in the streets of Mumbai, aspiring for a better life. He gets the chance to participate in an Indian rendition of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ and quickly reaches the final question. Unfolding in a non-linear narrative, the film shows how Jamal acquired the answers to each question in the quiz show. The protagonists in both these films hail from similar backgrounds, but the way they deal with life is distinct. Needless to say, the themes of poverty, servitude, and society are present in ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘The White Tiger.’
6. The Ruling Class (1972)
A biting satire on the English nobility, ‘The Ruling Class’ is based on Peter Barnes’ play of the same name and depicts how a paranoid schizophrenic becomes a member of British peerage through inheritance. Jack Gurney (Peter O’Toole), the new Earl of Gurney, first believes himself to be Jesus Christ and later, Jack the Ripper. Aided by his self-serving relatives, he quickly assumes his position in the House of Lords. In ‘The White Tiger,’ we are introduced to the lesser sects of society and get to know more about their problems. Evidently, both these films represent different sides of the same coin.
5. Masaan (2015)
Like ‘The White Tiger,’ ‘Masaan’ is a tale of exploitation and casteism in modern India. Devi Pathak (Richa Chadda) is a computer teacher who is caught having sex with her student, Piyush Aggarwal, by police inspector Mishra (Bhagwan Tiwari), who then proceeds to blackmail her. Elsewhere, Deepak Kumar (Vicky Kaushal), a boy belonging to the Dom community, becomes romantically involved with the upper-caste girl Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi). What unfolds is a poignant narrative that affect the many people involved.
4. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
The cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s namesake novel, the film follows the titular character as he murders his way to the top tier of society. There are quite a few similarities between Ripley (Matt Damon) and Balram. However, while the latter only kills his erstwhile master Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) as a last resort, Ripley commits murders because of his psychotic tendencies. Killing is as ingrained in his nature as the appreciation for art, music, or fashion.
3. City of Joy (1992)
Roland Joffé’s film adaptation differs vastly from Dominique Lapierre’s original book, but it is able to maintain the same earnestness that resonates from each page of the source material. The story predominantly follows two characters, Hazari Pal (Om Puri), who used to be a rural farmer, but circumstances forced him to move to Kolkata (then Calcutta) with his family and start working as a rickshaw puller.
Max Lowe (Patrick Swayze) is a surgeon from the US. After losing a patient, he comes to India seeking spiritual enlightenment but gets beaten and mugged instead. Hazari rescues Smith and takes him to the slum area known as the “City of Joy.” There, Smith meets Joan Bethel (Pauline Collins), the Irish woman who has set up a clinic there. In time, through serving the people of the slum, Smith finds peace. ‘The White Tiger’ is not as peaceful in its resolve to highlight casteism and classism, but the issues of societal divide and poverty are poignantly prevalent in both films.
2. Peepli Live (2010)
This gem of a dark comedy tells the story of Natha (Omkar Das Manikpuri), a destitute farmer somewhere in the Heartlands of India, whose family is close to losing the only piece of land they have left to the banks. With encouragement from his brother Budhia (Raghubir Yadav), Natha decides to kill himself to get the loan waived by the banks. Soon, however, their intention is reported by a local journalist. The report catches the national media’s interest, which turns Peepli into a hotspot of political activities. Albeit a comedy, it shed some light on the plethora of issues faced by the less privileged and how they seek to resolve them, just like ‘The White Tiger.’
1. Parasite (2019)
Like ‘The White Tiger,’ the South Korean Oscar-winning film ‘Parasite‘ is a riveting tale of class conflict and social inequality. It focuses on two families, the poor Kim family and the wealthy Park family. The Kim family members gradually replace the servants of the Park family by recommending each other. Soon enough, a symbiotic relationship forms between the two groups, both benefitting from the alliance. However, greed and class prejudice eventually take their course, leading the film to its violent and stunning conclusion.
Read More: Best Indian Movies of the 21 Century