OUTSOURCED (John Jeffcoat, 2006)

Western Novelty, which markets “patriotic nick-knacks,” is moving its operation, including the call-center that Todd Anderson manages, from Seattle to Gharapur, a town near Mumbai, for the sake of the company’s bottom line. (Don’t stress trying to find Gharapur on a map; it’s made-up.) Todd, an American smart-aleck, must bring his replacement, Purohit N. Virajnarianan, the soul of decency, up to speed. In India, Todd amusingly is a fish out of water, although he finally reconciles himself to his mission at a critical (and touching) moment in a local river; moreover, he and Asha, whom he grooms to become Puro’s assistant, fall in love. When he says about her, “Asha can do anything,” it is the inspirational moment of her life. One thing Asha may not be able to do, however, is divert the course of the marriage that her traditional parents have arranged for her.
     After considerable training of the Indian workers, and the elevation of their dreams, the company’s dogged pursuit of lower overhead shifts the outsourcing from India to China.
     Outsourced, co-written by George Wing and the director, Seattle-based John Jeffcoat, is a charming, delightful comedy laced with satire and gentle tugs at the heart. Young boys love Todd and throw their arms around his legs to hug him—and to lift either his wallet or cell phone; an adult street vendor pushes onto strangers and tourists a liquid refreshment that Western digestive tracts cannot handle. By degrees, Todd’s American arrogance relaxes; back home, he adds a bindi—a “third eye”—on the forehead of the image of George Washington embossed on his Western Novelty plate!
     Josh Hamilton, adorable Ayesha Dharker, and Asif Basra all shine in the principal roles; Matt Smith is as unpleasant as he needs to be as Todd’s boss.


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