Mickey Rourke starrer 'Tiger' is a tale of racism, boxing and a young man's struggle to fully accept himself
At the crux of it, 'Tiger' is a story about justice and standing up for what is right, but there are also many more issues that this ambitious movie addresses
Once or twice in your lifetime, you will be faced with a huge choice that will define who you are in the days to come. ‘Tiger’, directed by Alister Grierson, is a movie that focuses on one such moment from a young Indian immigrant’s life. Inspired by the real-life story of Canadian boxing champion Pardeep Nagra, ‘Tiger’ narrates the story of an Indian-origin Sikh boxer who was refused the opportunity to box because of his beard.
At the crux of it, it is a story about justice and standing up for what is right, but there are so many themes that this ambitious movie addresses – racism being the biggest one of them. The star of the movie and one half of the writing duo, Prem Singh, is no stranger to subtle, everyday racism. In fact, it is his desire to create a niche role for himself that stands out from the stereotypical Appu from 'The Simpsons’ roles that led him and his best friend Michael Pugliese to make this film.
It is the brotherhood he felt towards Pardeep that inspired Prem, but it is Michael’s perseverance to actually get this made that ensured the creation of ‘Tiger.’ You would not believe they are anywhere close to civil if you were to watch the movie, considering they play nemeses. “Me and Prem, you know, we are brothers. We are very, very close and being hateful [towards each other] on screen was really fun,” Michael tells Meaww.
Michael’s Brian is the primary antagonist — if you don’t count the many racists — of the movie, having been betrayed, leading him to be hurt and jealous. He is truly and three-dimensional character, who many viewers will in their hearts root for.
The boys give all the credits for character development of Pardeep and Brian to Alister, who they say helped them "mold the screenplay into what it was at the end". "We just had to focus on creating as much truth to the character as we possibly could, but also create some sort of cinematic appeal and add some things to let you have interest.” It definitely worked, because none of the characters seem forced or driven without a cause. Even when you do not explicitly see a character’s backstory, you understand what his motivations are based on circumstance and location.
Brian and Prem’s dedication to bringing this long-in-the-making movie to life is evident in the final product. Even before they had any green light for the project, they say, they started prepping for the role, physically and mentally. Prem even went as far as to get Pardeep's real trainer to coach him. In the movie, he even moves like Pardeep and more or less mimics his boxing techniques to a T.
The movie, after all, is focused on boxing and Pardeep’s decision to demand that he be allowed to box and stand up to the visible prejudice against him. However, boxing, racism and every other layer are all the blankets that cover the core of the film, which is that it is a coming-of-age movie. “It is the story of a boy becoming a man. He has to learn to love himself before he can love anybody else. I think that is the important part of this,” Michael corroborates.
‘Tiger’ is about a man learning to love himself, allowing himself to change and reaching a place where he can look at himself in the mirror and be happy with who he sees. As Michael perfectly sums it, “Pardeep has to learn to fight to stop fighting and fight to love himself. It is about the boy becoming a man and the journey it takes to live such a fulfilling life.”
The most glaring proof of this beautiful journey is the pivotal moment in the movie where Pardeep chooses to not tap into his anger when racists confront him one night. This non-fight could be summarized as the quietest, subtlest and one of the fiercest battle cries in any movie.
In that moment, he has finally learned to fully accept himself as who he is, and it is this beautiful moment that the movie builds up to. It is this moment for which most of us would love this movie.
The presence of Mickey Rourke, whose love for boxing is well known, Janel Parrish of ‘Pretty Little Liars’ and ‘To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’ fame and Marshall Manesh of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fame, who plays the role of Pardeep's primary caretaker and uncle, make this movie an all the more enjoyable experience.
Don’t forget to check 'Tiger' out when it hits the theatres on November 30.