I want to get back to posting regularly, and maybe I'll start with a lovely little film I saw yesterday. My friend D. gave us a Netflix subscription, which we are enjoying so much. I wanted to watch something light and funny yesterday and came across a movie I'd never heard of, called Outsourced. It's a romantic comedy of sorts (doesn't have the requisite happily-ever-after ending) about a guy named Todd Anderson who lives in Seattle and manages a call center for a kitschy mail-order company called Western Novelty. His whole department is laid off and outsourced to India and he is sent there to train his replacement, with the promise of a good job back home once he can get the Indian call center staff's stats where they're supposed to be. He doesn't want to be there and initially just wants to finish as quickly as possible and get out, but there are lots of roadblocks in India to developing a call center that meets his American company's requirements. So he stays and stops "resisting India" as another American he meets in Mumbai describes Todd's attitude. Eventually, Todd is to some extent seduced by both the country and a beautiful, smart Indian woman, as well.
The movie is a lot better than that summary makes it sound. The characters are fully realized and likable and the culture clash is very realistically depicted. The charm, beauty, noise, confusion and frustration that Americans visiting India experience are shown in all their glory. Todd experiences the joys of Indian hospitality and the intrusiveness into one's personal life that come with it. And he softens and grows in some key ways, including gaining a new appreciation for his own parents from watching his new Indian acquaintances' respect for theirs.
Some particularly charming scenes include:
- Todd trains his call center folks to reduce their accents by having them act out famous bits from American movies. They then turn the tables and have him do a dance from a Bollywood film.
- Todd and Asha, his love interest, impersonate each other's accents and ways of talking.
- Todd tries to explain to his employees what the kitschy American stuff their company sells is used for.
- Todd is met when he arrives by Puro, a man who, unbeknownst to him, is going to be his replacement. Todd describes his job as "selling kitsch to rednecks" and adds that "now I have to teach some schmuck here to do it." Puro, taking notes, earnestly asks him "Please explain. What is kitsch? What is redneck? What is schmuck?"
Highly recommended if you're in the mood for something light, funny, and beautiful to look at.