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White Tiger and Slumdog Millionaire This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Although the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the book White Tiger are both set in India, they represent two extremely different ideas. In Slumdog Millionaire, the movie’s moral reads something like, “If you are honest and rise above the corruption around you, you will make it out of the slums and save a beautiful girl in the process.” White Tiger satirizes the age old story that the good guy wins. The main character Balram actually succeeds in life by becoming corrupt and less humane.

In White Tiger, Balram starts out an honest man and turns into a corrupt monster. He uses lying and even murder to advance in life, forgets about his morals, and becomes a reprehensible man. But instead of failing at life, he succeeds. He does anything necessary to get what he desires. Balram was the backup driver when he first started working for his master Mr. Ashok. He found out the head driver was Muslim, got him fired, and moved into the head position. He didn’t care about the others, only himself. Before he let greed and wealth consume him, Balram had admitted his masters were good, stating, “As far as masters go, Mr. Ashok, Mukesh Sir, and the Stork were better than nine in ten.” (56) Later, however, he later lists ways to cheat money out of them. “1. When his master is not around, he can siphon petrol from the car, with a funnel. Then sell the petrol. 2. When his master orders him to make a repair to the car, he can go to a corrupt mechanic; [who will] inflate the price of the repair and the driver will receive a cut. 3. He should study his master’s habits, ask himself, is my master careless?” (194) Comparing these two quotes, one can see the dramatic changes Balram has made in thinking.

There are times when you see the ethical side of Balram. He is sitting in his car in one section, contemplating stealing a bag of money. “Go on, just look at the red bag, Balram—that’s not stealing is it? I shook my head. And even if you were to steal it, Balram, it wouldn’t be stealing. How so? I looked at the creature in the mirror. See—Mr. Ashok is giving money to all these politicians in Delhi so that they will excuse him from the tax he has to pay. And who owns that tax, in the end? Who but the ordinary people of this country—you!” (208) Yes, his greed overcomes his good heart in the end, but he does question himself, showing he has some common sense or even a heart. Notice, however, he does call himself a creature as if he is inhuman, illustrating that he knows that what he is doing is wrong.

Although Balram makes all these unwise decisions, he still succeeds in business, creating a wealthy taxi cab service for workers and making large profits of money. He is the ultimate anti-hero because author Aravind Adiga almost makes you feel happy for Balram. In literature, India’s society has a reputation for being corrupt, but it is not normal for the protagonist to be corrupt and still get so far in life.

The hero in Slumdog Millionaire, Jamal, is quite the opposite. He is being interrogated for cheating, but he stays true to himself. He is an honest and noble young man, and nothing like Balram. In the end of the movie, Jamal saves the girl of his dreams, wins a million dollars, and escapes all the harm he faced throughout the plot. He is far from being a monster, but more a young man who is truthful and wise. He even wins the entire game show without any cheating whatsoever unlike the wily Balram would have. The directors of this movie strongly communicate their message that those who have strong morals and make good decisions get farthest in life.

Looking back you can see the dramatic differences between the intentions of the author of White Tiger and the director of Slumdog Millionaire. They were similar in showing the corruption of India’s society, but the messages were far from alike. While Adiga showed Balram succeeding from a life of lies, manipulation, and cheating, the directors of Slumdog Millionaire had a different approach…those who succeed in life are the good-hearted ones.





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