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Outsourced is a comedy directed by John Jeffcoat about a Todd Anderson, an American call center manager, whose department is shifted or outsourced to India. Todd is further sent to India to induct and train his replacement. The film centrally revolves around culture shock that Todd faces in India as well as friendships and romance that ultimately have a profound change on him. The film addresses the cultural disparities that emanate from globalization and their effect on friendship, work and love.
Focusing on Todd, the main character’s experience in India a lot of cultural differences are exhibited. The first instance is observed when Todd encounters the chaotic Indian transport system. He is forced to jump into a moving train and has a boy seat on his lap in exchange for a seat. This is something Todd perceives queer as he is used to having his own personal space as an individual. He was also perturbed to observe a man urinating by the roadside and encounters a street boy who pesters him and later on snatches his phone. In America, such behaviors were looked down upon and deemed backward.
Different religions, language, food and marriage practices are prominently featured in the film. Todd was surprised to note that the Indians had a great reverence for cows. Coming from a predominantly Christian society, Hinduism was rather queer. Todd eats an Indian delicacy, gola, for the first time from a food vendor which ends up giving him stomach upsets. When Todd is offered food in a guest house he makes a cultural mistake by eating with his left hand, which in the Indian context is perceived as “unclean”. In Bombay he is disappointed that a fast-food restaurant he thought was McDonald’s was an imitation restaurant that only sold Indian snacks and the like. Todd thought all fast foods were similar to those back in America.
The language differences see Puro his assistant calling him “Mr. Toad” instead of Mr.Todd. Todd is also unable to grasp pronunciations of certain Indian words such as Puro’s fiancée “Bhagyashree Sasamunde”. When Puro tells him of the holi festival, Todd is quick to interject “holi what?” This showed how foreign the word sounded to Todd. In another instance, where lingual differences were observed was in one scene that Todd castigates the call center employees for conversing in an Indian accent. Todd admonishes them despite the fact that English was a second language by urging them to learn about America and sound like American.
The India marriage practices also present cultural shock to Todd as he establishes Asha, the woman he becomes romantically involved with, was betrothed at the age of four. This was part of the Indian culture of arranged marriages. Puro’s imminent marriage also highlights the cultural differences in determination of a wedding date. Astrology is key in setting wedding dates in India.
It is prudent to note that Todd eventually became comfortable with the Indian culture. The turning point begins when Todd encounters a fellow American colleague in the fast-food restaurant that he had presumed was McDonalds. The compatriot shares his experience in India urging Todd to estop resisting the culture. This sobering conversation saw Todd change his outlook on various things including the call center operations allowing cultural diffusion. He apologizes to his staff for forcing them to operate like an American office. He even welcomes suggestions from the workers and in a later scene loosens up by dancing with an Indian coworker. The film ends with Todd having overcome his ethnocentrism and cultural relativism.
Outsourced. Dir. John Jeffcoat. Perf. Josh Hamilton, Ayesha Dhaker,Asif Basra, Arjun Mathur. 2006. Shadowcatcher Entertainment, 2006. Film.
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