Tejinder singh corner shop when i was born

Who walk over corpses: That's why the Indian picaresque parable is better than "Slumdog Millionaire"

01/20/2021 by SWYRL / Andreas Fischer

Anyone who wants to escape the slum in India should not hope for fairytale circumstances, but rather go resolutely over corpses: The terrific Netflix film tells an intoxicating tale of servants and masters.

Chicken cages are India's greatest invention, says Balram (Adarsh ​​Gourav): The animals crouch in them and know what to expect (a cleaver). But they are too docile (or too stupid) to do anything about it. In any case, Balram doesn't want to be cooped up poultry, but a different animal. From January 22nd, Netflix will show its rise from slaughter cattle to king of the jungle in the grandiose narrated adaptation of the novel "The White Tiger".

The film begins at high speed: Jay-Z and Panjabi MC roar from the loudspeakers of an SUV that rushes through the (almost) deserted night of New Delhi. Until a child crosses the street ... But one shouldn't start a story with tragedy, especially not his, says Balram.

Director Ramin Bahrani does him a favor and stages "The White Tiger" in a powerful and pointed manner, preserving the resigned humor and narrative finesse of the acclaimed novel by Aravind Adiga. Nevertheless, the unadorned view of India's caste society is dirty and repulsive. Bahrani cleverly assembles different time levels together, at the same time tells of the eternal servant and a successful man who has achieved the impossible - and reports about it to the Chinese prime minister in a letter.

Actually, his fate is predetermined: Balram was born a servant, will toil to death in his village and let the corrupt landowner steal his wages. But he wants more, hires his master's degree as a driver, and works his way up to the first driver with submissiveness, determination and elbows.

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Corpses pave his way

He is still a servant, but at least he can now allow himself to be humiliated by the youngest son of his boss and his wife in New Delhi. The gentlemen stay in a chic apartment, Balram lives in the spacious underground car park of the residential complex - together with all the other servants up there.

But he will escape the slum, if not through fairytale circumstances or a generous patron - but through determination and the will to walk over corpses. Many humiliations and two deaths later, Balram is actually a successful entrepreneur - and a master himself. In order to break out of a lower caste in India, Balram once explains, you have to be a criminal (or a politician).

In any case, in the end, that is the big punch line of the gloomy and cynical picaresque parable, the submissive servant gets away with murder just like his corrupt master. There are simply too many chickens in India's cages. Because they are freely interchangeable, nobody takes the trouble to tell them apart.