Todd Anderson works for an American novelty company, but his entire department has just been outsourced to India. While many people lost their jobs, he is given a chance to go to the new call center to train the staff to be efficient in their work. When Todd arrives in India, he is overwhelmed by the crowds and the chaos and shocked by the living arrangements and food provided during his stay. When he first arrives in the call center, he learns that the employees work in comparatively deplorable conditions with virtually no understanding of customer service or the products the company sells. Trying to find a way to get through to the staff, his task is to get the average phone call to last less than 6 minutes while successfully helping the customers. As Todd continues to get used to the new atmosphere and the style of living, he develops a strong friendship with Puro, his replacement manager in India, and Asha, one of the customer service representatives who shows a stronger commitment to leading the team and independent personality.
Starring: Josh Hamilton (Todd Anderson), Matt Smith (Dave), Asif Basra (Purohit N. Virajnarianan), Sudha Shivpuri (Aunt Ji), Ayesha Dharker (Asha), Jeneva Talwar (Rani), Bhuvnesh Shetty (Manmeet)
While there are a number of actors who bring this story to life, there are only a few that stand out in their acting performance. Josh Hamilton, who plays Todd Anderson, is able to bring his character to life as a man taken out of his environment and in search of a way to belong. He struggles with an adjustment to a new lifestyle and exhibits the internal conflict with trying to understand and get immersed in a new culture. Asif Basra has a great subordinate personality, though he serves as the guide for Hamilton’s learning experience. He represents a personality that is naive in his understanding of the talents and abilities hidden within. More important to the story is Asha, played by Ayesha Dharker. She is clearly a strong personality and has great rapport with Hamilton. She actually steps up as the best performer in the film.
Though the concept was eventually adapted to become a short-airing television comedy, John Jeffcoat portrays immersion and cultural exploration in a fun and entertaining way. Todd’s arrival in India was an unanticipated venture into the unknown. His living arrangements were unexpected, but not even close to the state of the call center he had been assigned. While he knew the task at hand (to reduce the time a service call lasted), he had no idea how much he would connect with the members of the call center, particularly Asha. As much as he is having trouble with understanding this new culture, he unknowingly adapts to it and learns from his call center employees and engaging in celebrations like Holi. As the relationship with Asha grows, he struggles with her status as being promised to an Indian man, and though he stumbles into a moment of cheating, he leaves her to her cultures traditions and leaves the call center once he job is done.
While Americans tend to believe that call centers are evil thieves of American jobs, this film gives a more light-hearted view of their existence. The first element that Todd faces during his travels is the difference in economic stability. He travels on cycles and lives in a home without most modern amenities. The call center has an open wall with animals that wander and the staff cannot seem to pronounce his name correctly. They constantly call him “Toad” instead of Todd. He also eventually learns that the novelty items that the company sells are just the things that seem to motivate the team. This seems to mirror the concept of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The love story uses the strong personality for Asha to represent some characteristics that seem to go against the grain of cultural stereotypes but help to make the love story entertaining.
While this is a movie that could easily be missed, it is a different take on a romantic comedy that infuses some cultural differences to give a global perspective of the concept of love. Definitely worth a chance.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5