© 2006 ShadowCatcher Entertainment

Outsourced (2006)

A summary of Outsourced sounds like a recipe for romantic comedy clichés and offensive cultural stereotypes. What it actually turns out to be is an engaging tale of a naïve American businessman working against his will in India, and a rom-com that defies the genre by actually managing to be funny.  Josh Hamilton plays a Seattle-based manager of a call center for a company that sells cheap patriotic novelties, until he is order to travel to India to train the person who will replace him after his entire department is outsourced. His task is to train the Indians staffing the center, which is situated in a concrete bunker in the middle of nowhere, to understand the very American merchandise and to speak with accents so convincing customers will never suspect their calls have been routed overseas.

Many of the expected situations turn up, including gastro-intestinal disturbances with no toilet paper in sight, and comic mispronunciation of American and Indian names. But there are also unexpected touches that add a lot, such as a child street beggar who is constantly, but playfully, stealing the American’s cell phone and returning them decorated with handmade art, and the relationship he develops with a family on the other side of the wall behind the house where he is staying. In the turning point in the film comes when Hamilton’s character is caught up in the holiday of Holi, the celebration of color in which he is pelted with handfuls of colored powder. He dips into a lake to wash off, and this is his baptism, his induction into Indian culture, after which he is finally able to do his job effectively.

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