The filmmaker's adaptation of Aravind Adiga's acclaimed novel hits Netflix this winter.

Ramin Bahrani’s The White Tiger may be an epic about a poor young man in contemporary India who changes his fortune, but don’t expect another Slumdog Millionaire.

“I was trapped — and don’t believe for a second there’s a million-rupee game show you can win to get out of it,” says Balram (Adarsh Gourav) in the Netflix release’s first trailer, above. No, in this sharp, darkly funny vision of modern life, it takes much more than that.

Adapted for the screen by Bahrani from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Booker Prize-winning novel, The White Tiger follows Balram from his childhood in a small village all the way to adulthood in Delhi, where he is a driver for the wealthy Ashok (Rajkummar Rao) and his American wife Pinky (Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who also executive-produced the film, along with Ava DuVernay). As his eyes are opened to being trapped in a rigged system of “those with big bellies and those with small bellies,” as the trailer says, the clever but low-born Balram takes his destiny into his own hands to seize the kind of life he never would have thought possible.

The White Tiger
Credit: Netflix

“It’s really about a man who just wants to be free, free to pursue the totality of his life,” Bahrani told EW in a first look at the film. Shot entirely on location in India, the dynamic, ambitious, awards-hopeful drama is timely in its themes and enormous in scope. “It’s a crazy movie. It’s a big movie,” the 99 Homes filmmaker tells EW. “I really wanted the movie to transport us to a different world, to show us India in a different way that we haven’t seen before.”

Check out the trailer above. The White Tiger will open in select theaters in December and hit Netflix in January.

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