Monday, 27 April 2009


“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Edison

We watched a pleasant and amusing movie at the weekend, which was quite a good way to pass the time for a little while. Escapist bubbles to relax by, although once we started watching it, there were sharks swimming in the bubble bath… It is the 2006 John Jeffcoat movie “Outsourced”. It starred Josh Hamilton, Ayesha Dharker, Matt Smith, Asif Basra and Sudha Shivpuri. I had not seen any of these actors play in any other film before but they were quite good and did the light and fluffy script justice.

The story starts in Seattle where Todd (Hamilton) is the manager of a call centre peddling trashy and tacky novelties. Todd’s boss, Dave, (Smith) gives him the news that his whole department has been outsourced to India and that he has been made redundant. To add insult to injury, Dave tells Todd that he has to go Mumbai to train his Indian replacement. Todd cannot even resign as his stock options in the company will rendered worthless, so he goes to India… Todd’s adventures begin with all of the usual cross-cultural misunderstandings and traveller’s woes, but to his dismay he soon discovers that his new temporary place of employment and his staff are not what he expected. He has the job to teach Indians to talk “American”, improve their efficiency and work ethic and make the workplace paralysed by cultural clashes function effectively. Furthermore, he cannot go back home until the call centre average per call falls to 6.00 minutes. Just when he thinks that he is battling with an invincible adversary he notices Asha (Dharker) who shows him that it takes more than Indians understanding Americans to make the enterprise successful.

The film won several audience awards in various film festivals (Cinequest Film fest; Indian Film Fest LA, Seattle International Film Fest, etc) and also the Best of Fest in the International Palm Springs International Film Festival and was an official selection for the Toronto Film Festival. This is not a laugh until you cry film, but rather a chuckle often film. It does not probe too deeply into the serious issues it raises but rather gently introduces these issues to us so that we can sympathise with both the Americans and the Indians, by seeing the situation from both sides.

Although the film is for the main part quite sanitised, we are given a glimpse of the true India here and there and one is interested to learn more, discover more, read more, see more. There is quite a bit of fun being poked at both Americans and Indians, but it is good natured fun, not catty nor vindictive. There are differences that are highlighted, but these are respected. The inevitable romance that develops between Asha and Todd is rather refreshing in its intensity and uncharacteristic earthiness (compare to most Indian films out of Bollywood).

The film concerns itself with themes of our time, one of disappearing jobs, forced intermingling of different cultures, and what it means to broaden our horizons, learn about our fellow human beings and how they live, and how in order to survive we must expand our world view. It’s well worth watching if you can lay your hands on it.

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