Monday, June 8, 2009

Book Review : The White Tiger by Arvind Adiga

After Slumdog Millionaire, here’s another story on the life of the marginalized sections of society, Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger. Like Slumdog which traces the life of a young kid from the slums of Mumbai, this one tracks the life of a migrant from a small town to the big city. That’s where the similarities end though; The White Tiger is much darker and intense. Unlike Slumdog which has a happy ending and is interwoven with an interesting tale of romance, this one is based on betrayal, corruption, murder and lies.

I wouldn’t say that I liked the book much, but as they say REALITY BITES, it’s truly an eye opener!! A stinging critique of all aspects of our country, including religion, written in a blunt and mocking manner that does make you smile sometimes, but at other occasions slaps you across the face. The author has to be given credit for his free flowing writing and treatment of issues that are generally considered taboo in Indian society, which we knew always existed, but were swept under the carpet.

The beginning is quite innovative and different. It is in the form of an open letter to the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. The author seems to mock the Chinese, saying that entrepreneurs are the only thing China lacks, and offers Jiabao tips to churn out an entrepreneur in seven days.

The White tiger is a story of Balram Halwai, a villager from Laxmangarh, Bihar and narrates his life from a chaiwalla in Dhanbad to a driver in Delhi who robs and murders his employer and finally as a successful entrepreneur in Bangalore. The author seems to suggest that the only way for a villager to succeed in India is through corruption and manipulating the system. Through interesting anecdotes, he lays bare our country’s corruption, bureaucracy, inefficient police force, utter absence of law, caste system etc.

He also trashes our supposed trump card “DEMOCRACY” showing how votes are bought and people forced to vote for a particular party.

And to think that India will become a superpower after all this,


Jokes apart, I think this will really make a fabulous Hindi movie because it has all the masala for success. Though, like Vikas Swarup’s Q&A on which Slumdog Millionaire was based, the rights for The White Tiger have been bought by a Hollywood production house so it looks like we’ll have to endure foreign stars again. I often wonder why our filmmakers don’t purchase rights to books. Doesn’t any of them read, for God’s sake???