Balram Halwai Is Not To Be Exemplified
After having read the book ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga and watched the movie by Ramin Bahrani on Netflix one may find similarities with ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Parasite.’ As these three movies have the same premise; a world that is divided into a world of darkness and a world of light, and a quest to move from darkness to light. There are many questions that arise as to who makes this division between the rich and the poor although there is very evidently a difference? Even if there is a difference, what makes it necessary to make a transition from poverty to riches?
Transitioning from a poor state of life to a richer state doesn’t guarantee a better character outcome. And Balram Halwai (acted by Adarsh Gourav) stands to be the greatest example not to be followed in this regard. He might be becoming the entrepreneur he dreams to be but not by the right means and therefore not worthy of emulation.
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Balram Halwai, in the beginning, is filled with great passion to study and make a difference until an untoward situation takes place and he has to give up his formal education. But thereafter he begins educating himself observing the world around him and the rest that follows in his life is a result of what he has learnt from the corrupt India of the beginning of the 21st century.
Balram dreams of being different from the rest and performs as much to prove himself worthy earning even a scholarship to study in Delhi. The realization of poverty strikes when his father is not able to pay the rich bullies their forced share and Balram has to give up his dream of attending classes. The rich make the best of the ignorance of the villagers looting them and torturing them for what is their own. This is then imprinted on the minds of the villagers of Laxmangarh that they are meant to serve and they ought to remain the same. Balram Halwai although challenges this notion he too falls for the servitude attitude to the extent that he is even ready to take the blame in the hit-and-run case.
Balram paves his way to becoming a chauffeur to Ashok (acted by Rajkummar Rao) and his wife Pinky (acted by Priyanka Chopra Jonas). From a second driver to becoming the first driver he crookedly works it out. He has learnt the tricks. He remains the trickster till the end even though he decides to at last give up being a servant and becoming ones, own master. The means he employs do not justify the state he is in but that is what was going on around and about him. He makes the shift from darkness to light, although questionable. He doesn’t treat his employees the way he was treated but by this he doesn’t in any way become a saviour of them all. He just becomes a bad example to follow to become successful if one considers rising from poverty to riches, success.
Happiness is something that we need to experience from the bottom of our hearts. Irrespective of whether one is rich or poor one can experience it if one is true to oneself. Perhaps the luxury that the rich enjoy makes the poor wanting to rise to that level of richness. But when you know that all of this is passing and will not endure, you realize the crux of life. You realize the quest to earn money was simply futile. But without money, there is nothing one can do. Having money is not the problem, hoarding excess of it through corruption when you see your neighbour who deserves and is not at the receiving end that is quite disheartening and alarming.
Balram Halwai became the entrepreneur but because of his corruption, his family back home had to go through persecution and even lose their life. He may be enjoying the luxury but at the loss of his own dear family. Was he happy thereafter? Is a question that remains unanswered. If the poor live a very healthy and happy lifestyle and are content with what they have, then there seems to be no need to become rich. Riches do not guarantee happiness.
The poor and the rich divide are constructs that help us believe that there are individuals who in their greed stock up goods through corruption which would have benefitted the others. These individuals exploit their positions of power and responsibility. The constructs help the privileged strata of the society to understand and be concerned about our less privileged brethren. The privileged through whatever means may be, has now the responsibility to work for the upliftment of the less privileged, unlike Ashok who agrees to put the blame of one’s faults on Balram. Pinky on the other hand intends to take up the responsibility but is naive about situations considering it easy for Balram to emancipate from the situation just like she did back home. Her naivety makes her escape from India not just from the country but her husband and the patriarchal mindset.
One can see different India as of now, corruption might have become less but there is a humungous amount of concern that the privileged need to show towards those underprivileged. Balram Halwai shouldn’t be exemplified as there is no shortcut to a happy and contented life.
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