'Outsourced' – the movie

By Rohini Mohan

With all the buzz about the en masse US outsourcing effort to India, it’s high time someone made a movie about it. ‘Outsourced’, directed and co-written by John Jeffcoat with George Wing is a warm, funny, feel good romantic comedy set in India and Seattle. Starring Josh Hamilton, a prolific Broadway and TV actor and talented Ayesha Dharker, it is being touted as the next ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ type film to hit the theatres. Todd Anderson (played by Josh Hamilton) is the head of order fulfillment at a Seattle based company that sells cheesy patriotic merchandise on the phone. One fine day, just like that, he is told that his entire department is to be outsourced to a call center in India and if he wants to hold on to his stock options he must take the next flight out to India to train his replacement and bring the Indian call center up to speed by reducing the minutes-per-incident rate to a near impossible target. Reluctant and resentful, before he knows it, he finds himself on his way to Ghatapuri, a town supposedly close to Bombay, where he spends the next most enlightening few weeks of his life. It is here that he meets Asha (Ayesha Dharker) a super confident, opinionated young call center phone operator who tells him that it is as important for him to learn about India as it is for her to place the correct accent on the word ‘Chicago’ if they are to make the operation a success. Asif Basra is his ‘replacement’; the epitome of Indian middle management. Coming off as sincere, dedicated and unassuming, he plays his character with aplomb. We see India entirely from the perspective of Todd – or Toad as he is christened the minute he sets foot in Bombay. The in your face crowds, the vulture-like taxi drivers zeroing in on their next victim, the cheery street vendor selling suspicious looking ‘cola’ and the ubiquitous aunty-ji who runs a small town guest house and is not in the least shy of asking the most intimate of questions (what does your father do and why are you not married yet) even before she has exchanged her first greeting. He starts off as the arrogant and superior boss, the white man deigning to set foot in the third world, but it does not take him long to uncover the warmth, courage and determination that lie beneath the poverty and dirt in this nation of a billion people. India endears herself to him and he falls in love with her.screenshot_thumb.jpg What I enjoyed about the film is that it is fast paced and has a joke a minute. While all the clichés have been addressed – the cow that strays into the office; the third eye, a detailed explanation for the Shiv-ling, why Indians never use their left hand to eat, and of course, the Kamasutra, it is never crass or over the top. Best of all, the film affords us – both cultures- the opportunity to laugh at ourselves without ever crossing the line. For those of us who moved out of India before the ‘offshore’ phenomenon hit, it is an eye opener about how some things have changed so blatantly, while some things never change. The new value system of the youth and their way of life do come as a culture shock though; I felt this when I watched ‘Life in a Metro’ as well; the result of being miles away and caught in a time warp… The entire movie was shot in 31 days and was released on Friday, September 28th in theatres in California, Washington, Oregon, New York and Texas. It is currently playing at the Opera Plaza in San Francisco and will release in Shattuck, Berkeley, Camera 3, San Jose and Aquarius Theater, Palo Alto on October 5th. It will be launched in India later this year. To pre-order the DVD click here. I would give this film a full 5 stars. It is definitely worth a watch. When you next dial a 1-800 number and find yourself in deep conversation with Brad from customer service and find out that he is actually Varadarajulu, who has never stepped out of Hyderabad but has worked long and hard to develop his near perfect Texan drawl, you will remember ‘Outsourced’ as particularly insightful and funny … Photos from the official website

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