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The Rags-To-Riches Drama That's Heating Up On Netflix

The White Tiger is Netflix's latest effort in its mission to make truly global entertainment. The crime drama is an Indian-American production that's in English and features Bollywood star Rajkummar Rao, crossover star Priyanka Chopra Jonas (who's also an executive producer), and relatively unknown Indian actor Adarsh Gourav in a star-making performance. The effort is paying off, as The White Tiger is presently the No. 5 movie on the streaming service in America. 

The film tells the story of a man named Balram Halwai (Gourav), a poor man from a low social caste who dreams of a better life but is held down by the circumstances of India's class structure. He gets a job as a driver for a rich heir named Ashok (Rao) and his wife Pinky (Chopra Jonas). For a while, things go well, with Balram ingratiating himself to his wealthy employers, until Pinky, drunk behind the wheel after she and Ashok make Balram let her drive, hits a child. Balram is forced to take the blame for the crime, which makes Balram resentful when Ashok continues to regard him as a servant. So Balram decides to be like a rich person and break the rules to get what he wants.

The White Tiger is a critical hit

The White Tiger is written and directed by American director Ramin Bahrani, and is an adaptation of Aravind Adiga's Man Booker Prize-winning 2008 novel of the same name. It explores themes of income inequality and the symbiotic relationship between the haves and the have-nots. If you loved Parasite, you'll want to check out The White Tiger.

The film is getting positive reviews, with an impressive 91 percent "Fresh" score on Rotten Tomatoes. "It works because Balram is such a powerful character (and Gourav, a relative unknown, is a real find, alternately cherubic and deadly), and we've become so invested in his unsentimental education in the ways of the world," New York Magazine's Bilge Ebiri writes in his review of the film. "Through this unique figure, and through this highly specific portrait of one country, The White Tiger achieves a kind of universality." Critics are also praising Bahrani's writing and direction (the film is very personal to him, as Bahrani and Aravind Adiga have been close friends since they met in college 25 years ago, according to Screen Rant), as well as Paolo Carnera's cinematography.

Slight spoiler: the title refers to Balram, who sees a beautiful, unique white tiger in a cage at a zoo. He relates to the creature and decides he doesn't want to be like it. He's going to get out of the cage and take the place at the top of the food chain he feels he deserves — and he's going to do it the predatory way a tiger would.