Exclusive: 'I Saw This As A Global Story That Should Reach Everyone' — The White Tiger Producer Mukul Deora

Shubanka Sridhar , 22 Jan 2021
Mukul Deora, The White Tiger (Source: Twitter | @mukuldeora)
Mukul Deora, The White Tiger (Source: Twitter | @mukuldeora)

If there is one film that I have been super thrilled to watch in the first month of 2021, it has got to be The White Tiger starring Priyanka Chopra, Rajkummar Rao and Adarsh Gourav. Directed by Ramin Bahrani, the film is being produced by him and Mukul Deora. Mukul has been a filmmaker, musician and artist and has previously produced films like Bheja Fry 2. Now, he is super excited and equally nervous about presenting the much-talked about, The White Tiger, to the world. In an exclusive conversation with us, he speaks about how he chose to produce this story, releasing the film on an OTT platform and about his super stunning cast!

Here are excerpts from the interview:

This is your full fledged debut as a producer. I wanted to know, what the driving force behind choosing a film like this that is going to reach so many people?

Whether as a filmmaker, artist, or a musician, the driving force for me has always been the story. The core of everything is the story. So, when I read Arvind Adiga’s The White Tiger, it made me laugh out loud, it made me cry, it made me angry and just moved me so much. The story went deep into my system and didn’t let me rest or sleep until I could find a way to do something with it. When I read the book, the first thing I thought was, ‘Wow what a movie this will be!’. But when you get into actually adapting it for screen, you realise its not so simple. I wanted to scale it internationally, and it is not an easy process procuring the rights and setting it up. The novel was a huge hit, a prize-winning national bestseller, so I had to do justice to it. I’m happy that we managed to get this amazing team on board for this one.

‘The White Tiger’ is an absolutely powerful tale with a gripping storyline that keeps you hooked when you read it. If I were to ask you, what is that one part of the book that you ended up falling in one love with/ managed to impress you?

Honestly for me, it would be the the concepts that Adiga came up with. Like when he says there are two kinds of men with big bellies and small bellies, or the idea of the half baked man. My employer called me a half baked man and I had to say he was right, because my knowledge comes from so many different places with all the things I picked up from here and there. Everybody has seen all this before, nothing is new in this world. But it’s really how you can bring fresh insight to it. So, I guess the insightfulness of the book blew me away. Another thing is its universality. Be it anyone anywhere in the world, they will watch this story and say, ‘Wow this is a story of this man’s fight for freedom!’.

As a producer, you could have always opted for a theatrical release. Instead, what made you choose Netflix?

It’s a good question that I asked myself around 3-4 years ago, when I just stepped in as the film’s producer. See honestly, I love going to see movies in the theatres, I’m so upset about watching movies at home. But at the same time, this book has sold 4 million copies worldwide. So, I saw this movie as a global story and I wanted a global partner. I just thought Netflix was the right partner for that and that’s what the book and the movie deserved. I was sure they will push it into everyone’s living room, wherever you are Indian or not. Today, it makes a lot of sense and I was lucky.

And last but not the least, how was it getting Rajkummar Rao, Priyanka Chopra and Adarsh Gourav together for this one?

Priyanka loved the book. She had read it a long time ago and was a fan. When she heard it was being made, she reached out to us and wanted to be a part of it. She was just effortless at her job and aced the role. With Rajkummar, I think I always wanted him in the film. Even before we started casting, I asked Ramin to watch Newton and said there is something about Rajkummar. Adarsh is the angel of the movie. When we were doing the auditions and saw Ardash, we knew this is our Balram, this is our guy.

Well, it all did work out perfectly and the film is out now for us to watch on Netflix! I sure cannot wait to catch it today! What about you guys?

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