Friday, April 25, 2008

Outsourced, by John Jeffcoat (2006)

I'd never heard of this director - not surprising when you see his one previous effort, Milk is listed on IMDB with no reviews, no discussion, nothing. But the premise sounded entertaining so I went along, making this my first movie of the World Cinema Showcase.

I'm so glad I went - the title and poster give much of the plot away, but give no indication of how much of a light-hearted comedy would be provided. Todd is the "Fulfilment Manager" of a Seattle-based firm which sells "kitsch to rednecks" i.e. patriotic memorabilia to America, such as big foam blocks of cheese to wear on their heads or cowboy hats emblazoned with the stars and stripes or a hot dog toaster. As is the modern trend with many phone-based work, Todd finds out that his work has been outsourced to India: his job is to go out to a town near Mumbai and make the new team work.

It is obvious he's never been to this part of the world: I love the way he hits Mumbai airport, is completely bemused by the hordes of drivers with signs waiting for their passengers. Instead of going to the taxi chit desk, he wanders out to the taxis and is mobbed by all those drivers who don't yet have fares. There is at least a football field sized lot filled with taxis.

His task: to make the team of Indian telephone operators sound like those they're selling the product and get their time on each call down to unfeasibly low levels.The moral is as old as the hills: when in Mumbai, do as the Mumbai-ites do. Until he does, he's unhappy with things like this
happening and is no good at getting his new workers on board (although watching his culture shock was amusing). Only when he immerses himself in holi (the festival of colours) by retaliating on those who bomb him with coloured powder do things start to come right. He responds to his new team as regular people, becomes friendly with the fellow he's training to replace him and calms his fiercest critic, Asha (Ayesha Dharker)Ultimately, the movie is a sort of romantic comedy, so we can't expect too much by way of a searing commentary on globalisation, but I doubt many would watch the amazing job Todd's team of workers did to meet their impossible target and not at least wince when the inevitable happens: if this team has only been chosen because they equate to "eight heads for the price of one", then when "twenty heads for the price of one" can be found, they'll be out of a job. I say a sort of rom-com because there is an overlay of the Indian way that dictates the outcome of their relationship. In the meantime, they enjoy their "holiday in Goa", as did I watching it (and listening - the movie has a vibrant soundtrack).

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

The western film makers show what they want to show , not what should be shown.
Still western world likes to see China as land of ' kungfoo ' and ' India ' as land of snake charmers and ' slum dwellers'.

India, is now , a trillion dollar economy.And its not a joke.Not to forget 300 million strong middle class ( bigger than entire population of america.

I have been working in IT industry here in india for past 8 yrs.And whatever is shown in the movie is ' balant lie ' to what and how actually goes on here.
IT/BPO industry is very professional with best of infrastruture.Working under makeshift arrangement is a weird figment of imagination.

My recent job , cost two jobs in US.The were poorly educated, too highly paid , insincere and irresposible.No regrets to that.

The director of the film, I believe , is the most foolish person ever to grace the earth.

With a nation struggling to build its repotoire, such films with false details, comes as a stumbling block.

That film is not at all hilarious.Get yourself mentally Checked.

1:00 AM  

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