When the call center he manages in Seattle is outsourced to India, Todd travels there to train his replacement. Housed in a new building that looks like an above-ground bunker, the call center is staffed by willing novices whom Todd trains to sound American. One star on the staff is Asha, who teaches Todd that he should learn about India, and proceeds to do just that.Written by
Ron Kerrigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Todd first arrives at the airport in India, and is making his way through the group holding signs looking for people, the name on one of the signs is Gwen Bialic. See more »
When Todd is being driven to the train station in the rickshaw, his position and the position of his luggage keeps switching back and forth from side to side depending on the location of the camera. To move the luggage alone from side to side would have required lots of effort and there is no leg or headroom to do so. See more »
There is a certain way of making movies about India – a tradition that has descended from great directors like Louis Malle and Richard Attenborough that helps us appreciate movies like Born-into-brothels, city of joy. Most of these movies present us the abject poverty of India, the absolute penury of its people. Yet, there seems a way out of this dejected existence – one that leads to happiness despite the misfortune of disease and untimely death.
Words may not be enough to express the genius of Louis Malle or Attenborough, but somehow too much water has flown down Thames since that image of India was believed in. The wilderness in East that we knew India as has experienced some major changes since World War II. With globalization, it is transforming into something else for better or worse.
I would remember this movie not because of what it had to say about outsourcing but because of its somewhat accurate representation of India. There are things about India that are despicable- to most Westerners. But the way the movie approached the subject was not through insulting humor the way American comedies usually do, but instead with an entertaining exploration into the very land of mystery. Although mild it is a comedy, but the script seemed very much educated about how India really is. That it never mixed up any Arab stereotype with the Indian ones is both surprising and commendable for an American movie.
The first half of the movie that takes time to build up the image of India perceived by a foreigner is actually quite accurate. There are things unbearable and overwhelming about India, but much the way the protagonist discovers, it all becomes much easier when you lose yourself into the wilderness that India is. Holi, a festival in India, is seen as a a metaphor to that - an act of curiosity met with a deeper involvement.
Of course, it is the wilderness after all that forms the appeal of India. There is this whole set of rituals, mythologies, beliefs and practices that evolved with complete disconnection from the West and offer an alternate reality to the foreigner. This dualism of disgust and curiosity flows parallel in the movie and achieves a sort of resolution in the end. There are very few movies that have chosen to explore this interest in India, without getting into yoga, kamasutra and henna.
This movie does not aspire to do in cinema what the book world-is-flat did in popular literature. It is not trying to tell you that the world is changing to the advantage of the Third world or argue on whether capitalism is the only hope for the poor. It mildly makes fun of this whole world that corporate culture has given us when it pokes fun at imitation of American accents and at how that becomes a career skill for some. It looks at outsourcing as the outcome of this commoditization of human experiences altogether. I was made to feel that outsourcing is a by-product of uneven growth that our current economic systems result in. The resolution is probably through not letting oneself become a product of one's circumstances – be it corporate policies or greed for money.
That resolution could've been expressed much better way- but unfortunately the movie fumbled in the second half. If I weren't really impressed with the first half, I might not have finished watching it. Sometimes it even appeared whether the movie was meant to be a comedy or something else. Still, overall this makes for an interesting experiment with India.
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