In this time of mindless special effects and comic book-derived blockbuster movies, I was glad to encounter an indie film with simple but engaging story. Outsourced features a character named Todd Anderson (Josh Hamilton), the telemarketing manager of a company that sells Chinese-made American flags, tee shirts, and other patriotic knickknacks. Immediately, one sees the ironic humor in the story.
A high-ranking executive tells him that the company is outsourcing the entire customer service group to India, ordering Todd to fly to Delhi and train a new telemarketing group. He balks at the assignment, but under threat of losing his job and substantial stock options, he eventually surrenders and takes the long flight to India.
Culture shock slaps him in the face the minute he arrives at the airport and when he takes a dangerous pedicab ride to an overcrowded train station on his way to his new telemarketing digs, which turn out to be a dilapidated trailer-like shed with substandard fixtures. On his first week in India, he is stricken with the East Indian version of Montezuma’s revenge. The filth he sees boggles his mind.
But under pressure from his bosses, he half-heartedly begins to teach his telemarketing crew how to interact with U.S. customers by adopting American speech patterns and slang. We are then treated to a series of humorous exchanges between Todd and his East Indian employees.
It takes a while for Todd to realize his basic problem: he is constantly fighting India instead of accepting it and enjoying the culture. The epiphany takes place during India’s Festival of Colors (Holi festival) when Todd mistakenly leaves for work despite his landlady’s warning to stay indoors that day, and is pelted in the streets with fistfuls of colorful powders. Incensed, he fights back and begins pitching powders of his own. He ends up thoroughly enjoying himself. As he begins his acceptance of India’s culture, he sees his employees in a new light, engages them more, earns their respect, and even falls in love with one of them, the lovely and outspoken Asha (Ayesha Dharker).
The scenes in this movie are phenomenal, transporting viewers into the midst of this exotic, dirty, stinky, yet magical and beautiful place. Todd’s transformation from a miserable person stuck in a bad place to someone who slowly accepts and enjoys the culture is endearing.
Outsourced ranks way up there as one of my favorite romantic comedies. It is not a new, circa 2006, but it’s so good it warrants a review for readers who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the film.