Outsourced (2006)

Asha: "But we are native English speakers. English is the official language of our government. You got it from the British and so did we. We just speak it differently."
By John Jeffcoat
With Josh Hamilton, Asif Basra and Ayesha Dharker

I was recommended Outsourced by a friend who hinted that it's pretty much how I'd feel if I ever went to India, or its neighboring countries. It seemed interesting and all about culture clashes, so I decided to see it.

The film narrates the story of Todd, a manager in a telemarketing company in Seattle. When it gets too expensive to hold such an office in the US, Todd is sent to India to train Indian customer service staff to sound American. The first days of his trip are filled with situations he finds himself in because he is the odd one out, and the office seems like it's doomed to failure. However, he finds himself growing more and more attracted to the way of life in which he was thrown into. The smiling, helpful and competent Asha makes his life easier and the two of them start improving the work place, while also getting to know one another on a more personal level.

Outsourced is funny in many ways. Most of the stereotypes you hear, most of the common tales of tourists in India come through and turn out to create laughable situations. Since I've never been there, I don't know if it is actually exaggerated or not,though it might seem a little too much at times. Overall most of it works out fairly well.

Some of the funniest moments, in my opinion, arise from the different meanings that the same English words can have in American-English and Indian-English. The film briefly deals with the different social conventions and social pressures, but don't expect anything too in-depth as it is after all, a romantic comedy. The economic situation of outsourcing is not really dealt with, though we know it exists and we know it can ruin the lives of people who, from one day to the next, become unemployed.

The issue I had with that is that the movie seems to say it is an awful thing to do to Americans, but when you do it to Indians (to move to China), then it's more or less alright, because they learnt a lot and will find a job to bounce back very easily with the experience. Now, I don't know if it is really the case, but even if it is, doesn't it tell a lot about the situation of the workplace in countries where someone being fired can't count on the experience they accumulated to find another place? I'll leave this question open as it has very little to do with the film, but I was a bit baffled and it made me think about it.

I was also not sure whether the romance element was fully necessary. It is sweetly done, however, but I am not sure about the message it sends about premarital sex in India and its hypothetical consequences. Perhaps it is not something that a movie can fully deal with, as it is more of the moral order, but as the American male comes in, he does not ponder about it before actually having sex with Asha.

I feel that I am getting a lot more political about than this movie than it should be looked at. It is not the funniest comedy, but it has some great moments and situations and overall it's quite a feel good movie.

I liked: The festival of color (Holi) is maybe overused in movies, but it always looks so beautiful. Funny faux-pas and miscommunications. Feel-good. Healthy culture clash environment.

I disliked: Simplifies a lot, convenient. Superficial.

A lighthearted romantic-comedy with an extra dose of masala.


Post a Comment