The recently released film version of White Tiger, based on Aravind Ariga's coruscating debut novel, is a perfect place to revive an age-old question: Which movies would you nominate as equals to their namesake books? (In my view, Jaws stands as that rarest of animals, a film surpassing its namesake.)
After finishing White Tiger five years ago, it took weeks for me to begin writing a blog post about it. As I further processed what I'd read, mundane words often used to describe a reading experience felt inadequate. How to begin describing an amoral murderous narrator, who also happens to be someone you're rooting for? How to recommend something undeniably funny, but saturated with world-weary cynicism and set in a soul-crushing environment? I'm faced with a similar dilemma after watching the film.
Will you "like" this movie? Beside the point, just as it was with the book. Will you remember it? I believe you will. This lifelong movie geek is grateful for one trend in modern cinema, personified by White Tiger: Actors that accurately mirror ethnic groups from source material. Because, though I revered Paul Newman, casting him as a Native American in Hud was dumb. And don't get me started on Glenn Close, Jeremy Irons, and Meryl Streep - all immensely talented - as Chileans in House of the Spirits. Really? You may not recognize a single face in White Tiger. But they are the right faces for a story set in India. And, in my view, a film equal to its namesake.