Outsourced

Directed by John Jeffcoat

Starring Josh Hamilton, Ayesha Dharker, Asif Basra, Arjun Mathur, Siddarth Jadhav

Written by George Wing, John Jeffcoat

It’s almost impossible to go through any working space these days without finding someone who has been laid off.  It happened to me in 2004, and although I eventually landed on my feet, it was among the most stressful events in my life.  These days in the U.S. are not about loyalty.  They are about trying to give your family a stable home life while navigating through a different job (or career even) almost every 10 years.  It is with this in mind that I approached the movie, Outsourced, ever reluctantly.  Finding it was a romantic comedy, I was even further entrenched.  How could one find the losing of jobs in America funny, or romantic, even?  I was ready to move on through life without ever having watched it.  That all changed a few weeks ago, when I saw the commercial for the upcoming sitcom on NBC.

That was funny enough, I figured that if the movie was half this good, then I would not have wasted my 2 hours.  It was more than half that good.

Outsourced plays like a meditation, as the movie opens with Todd Anderson (Hamilton) playing a quite boring game of solitaire on his computer.  He is brought into the office and informed that the Seattle office he is managing is being outsourced to India, and all the employees will be laid off.  As he prepares to leave, he is informed that he has not lost his job.  Rather, he is given the opportunity to manage the new employees up to par in India.  Having nothing else going for him, and nothing keeping him in the states, he goes.

If what followed would have been your standard fish out of water story, I would have been disappointed.  Instead, Hamilton plays Todd (or Toad, as his over-willing hosts and employees refer to him) as a man who goes with the flow.  There are embarrassing moments, and moments when he is seemingly taken advantage of, but because Todd hangs in there, looks around at all the beauty that surrounds him, and listens.  One day, while eating at McDonnell’s (yeah, it is what you think) he comes across another American who is doing the same thing, for an even more successful company.  What he learns from this fellow traveler is enough to put him into receiving mode,  and it does not take him long to find a place in Gharapuri society.

Awash in the Holi festivities of Gharapuri

The staff at the call center is a delightful mixed bag.  It is refreshing to see the number of unique personalities that can be expressed in such a respectful, yet comedic way.  You have the over-anxious 2nd in command, Puro (Basra), who is dedicated to his family and his job in the same way and for the same reason.  Just about the

Bowing to grace on both sides.

entire group of new staff is fascinated by the American crap that they are peddling (tantamount to Cheese Heads and talking fish), enough so that Todd uses it as an incentive.  Then there is the guy who hits on every female caller.  Nothing like love from thousands of miles away.  The most intriguing new encounter is Asha (Dharker), the sharp and courteously headstrong  employee that speaks most plainly and least reverently with Todd.

In their exchanges, Todd becomes aware of the fact that while he is becoming more aware of the culture he has been immersed in, he has no real sense of what it means to be from where he is from.  His journey inside and out, is a memorable one.  He finds in India to be a culture with an immense and gentle pride.  What was at the beginning of his journey a nameless and faceless brood of job stealers, are now his friends and fellow citizens.  We should all be so lucky to have a chance to move through life with eyes wide open.

The romance that ensues between Asha and Todd is a tad on the predictable side, but the chemistry is one built on respect, and it is easy to see why they would be attracted to one another.  The end of the movie holds many delightful surprises, showing that Todd has found something to value in losing by helping others win.  The last scene is among the best I have experienced in some time.  This movie is a well of experience worth your time.

(**** out of *****)

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