Inspired by the true events, Tiger tells the story of Pardeep Singh Nagra, an aspiring boxer who becomes the centre of controversy when he is banned from the sport due to his religious beliefs. Sighting the safety of the athletes, Nagra is told that he will be unable to compete in the ring because he refuses to shave his beard. However, with the support of his trainer (Mickey Rourke), his lawyer (Janel Parrish) and teammates, Nagra’s real fight begins as he stands up against the boxing federation for his religious rights and freedoms.
Though it does not have the notoriety of another famed boxing franchise currently in theatres,Tigercarries its own unique—and important—creed into the realm of sports films. Featuring strong performances by its stars and written by first-time writers (!) Prem Singh and Michael Pugliese, Tiger features a solid script that often packs an emotional punch. While some changes have been made to the story—for instance, the drama really took place in Toronto, not the United States—the film remains relatively focussed throughout and provides a potential breakout role for Singh.
Based on the true story of Pardeep Nagra, the film wisely focuses much of its attention on the drama behind the bouts, rather than the matches themselves. To its credit, the film sets itself apart from other films of its genre by its willingness to wrestle with the issue behindthe issue at hand. Although other boxing films focus primarily on the underdog story of a ‘young man fighting the odds’, Tiger speaks to the battles that one faces in their daily lives such as racism, and serious illness. Although boxing provides the backdrop, it’s here in the personal struggles that the film finds its soul and leaves its mark.
We know that Nagra can fight. What matters most in Tiger is if he will be allowed to do so.
In addition to this, the film also depicts Nagra as a man whose faith creates a desire to live peacefully yet informs his competitive edge. Rather than fighting to get revenge, Nagra is one who fights because of his love of the sport. Unlike other films of this nature, his desire to fight others stems out of a spirit of competition as opposed to some great ‘chip on his shoulder’. In Tiger, Nagra’s greatest battle is for others to celebrate his difference, as opposed to asking him to conform. Therein lies the question of fairness for a man such as Nagra: where is the line drawn to allow someone to express their faith in a way that sets them apart if it interferes with the traditions that have come before? In doing so, Tigerbegins a conversation about the injustice of systemic racism and its ability to hold others back from success.
In the end, while there are those who may write off Tiger as simply ‘another boxing movie’, there is a lot of good here that sets it apart from other competitors. Choosing to focus itself on the fights that underline the fighting, Tiger speaks to the more difficult conversations that need to take place in an effort to seek justice for all.
To hear audio of our conversation with writer/stars Prem Singh and Michael Pugliese, click here.
Tiger begins its theatrical roll-out on Friday, November 30th, 2018.