Still from The White Tiger, by Professor Ramin Bahrani, premiering on Netflix

'The White Tiger,' by Professor Ramin Bahrani Released by Netflix in January

BY Cody Beltis , November 24, 2020

The White Tiger, written, directed and produced by Associate Professor Ramin Bahrani, will be released by Netflix in January. The film is adapted from Aravind Adiga’s debut novel, The White Tiger, published in 2008. Winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize, The White Tiger was a New York Times Bestseller. The film trailer can be viewed here


Bahrani and Adiga have been close friends since college—the novel is dedicated to Bahrani—and often discuss their work. "I remember reading early versions of The White Tiger years before he finished it," said Bahrani, who has also thanked Adiga on most of his films. "I thought it was amazing. I always wanted to make a film of it. I'm grateful he trusted me to do it."


Set in contemporary India with sardonic undertones, the film is centered on the murderous rise of a Bangalore driver who climbs from the bottom of India’s caste society to become a chauffeur and successful entrepreneur. The book has been likened to the Richard Wright novel Native Son. The subject describes his rise through poverty and corruption in correspondence with a Chinese finance minister preparing for a trip to Bangalore to learn about democracy.


Bahrani sees the appeal of The White Tiger going far beyond India because of a universal rags-to-riches theme. He told Deadline Hollywood that the book “shares the social themes explored in India-set films like Lion and Slumdog Millionaire, and that he has been waiting his whole career for this opportunity.”


"It's really about a man who just wants to be free, free to pursue the totality of his life," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I think that's something most of us understand now—a rigged system, chances that are denied, and the lengths we will go to make it in this world."


Leading the cast are Adarsh Gourav, Rajkummar Rao, and Priyanka Chopra Jonas. Jonas, a lauded Bollywood star, also executive produced the film, along with Ava DuVernay. 


Bahrani is an award-winning Iranian American writer, director and producer. His films have premiered in Venice, Cannes, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. In 2010 legendary film critic Roger Ebert proclaimed Bahrani as “the director of the decade.” Bahrani has won numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a “Someone to Watch” Independent Spirit Award. 


He has been the subject of retrospectives around the world and all his cinematic work is housed in the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. His feature films have won numerous awards, including the FIPRESCI Prize in London (Man Push Cart) FIPRESCI Prize in Venice (Goodbye Solo), the Grand Prize in Deauville (99 Homes) and a Golden Globe nomination for Michael Shannon (99 Homes). Bahrani’s television film, Fahrenheit 451, for HBO, starring Michael B. Jordan, was nominated for 5 Emmys, including Best TV Movie, and won him a PGA award for best television film. 


Man Push Cart (2005) and Chop Shop (2007), Bahrani’s first two films, will be released by the Criterion Collection in February, and are available for pre-order now. Bahrani’s Top Ten Films, published by the Criterion Collection can also be found here


Bahrani’s short documentary, Blood Kin, premiered at the 2018 Venice Film Festival where he also served as President of the Debut Film Jury. Bahrani served as producer of Alexandre Moratto’s Brazilian debut feature, Socrates, which has won over a dozen international prizes and garnered three 2019 Spirit Award nominations. 

Bahrani directed and executive produced the pilot of “Treadstone” from the Bourne Identity franchise for UCP. He is producing Alexandre Moratto’s new film, 7 Slaves, starring Rodrigo Santoro and Christian Malheiros for Netflix, and Alex Camilleri’s debut feature Luzzu made in Malta - both films are slated to premiere in 2021.

Still from The White Tiger, by Professor Ramin Bahrani, premiering on Netflix