Here is a bright and funny little romantic feel-good comedy set mostly in India, maybe an antidote to the horrific early scenes in Slumdog Millionaire. A guy from Seattle is sent to India to train the people who are taking over the phone-ordering jobs of a company that is interested in only the bottom line. He tries to make them work like Americans, but has a lot to learn about India. It’s very funny.
It has no deep political message, but manages to get in a few licks here and there. Some phone customers from the US are angry to be talking to a person in India who is taking American jobs. The assistant manager and love interest (the incredibly beautiful Ayesha Dharker) says they are happy to refer unhappy customers to a firm that sells only MADE IN USA products. They will sell him an identical item … for $200 more. Uh … er … that is … okay, I’ll buy it from you. A real patriot, that, until it comes time to pay up. Probably shops at Wal-Mart and never gives it a second thought. (Lee and I never shop at Wal-Mart.) And at the end, the Indians find that their jobs are being outsourced to China!
A personal note: My sister and I went to Australia about … my god, is it 20 years ago? How time flies. We continued on around the world, and one stop was Bombay, now Mumbai. The scenes in this movie showed me that, though I know there is a New India, with much prosperity and new construction, a lot of it is still as we saw it, an incredible shambles that somehow functions. (A lot like New York City.) When the couple in the movie must travel to an island because a shipment has gone to the wrong Gharapuri village (the call centre is in another town called Gharapuri) I began to recognize things. They begin at the Gateway to India, a huge monument erected for the visit of Queen Victoria back in the days of the British Raj. The island turns out to be Elephanta Island, where Kerry and I took a ferry to see the ancient cave sculptures there. “Ferry” is a pretty grandiose word for the crappy little boat we boarded, though. Halfway there, with not much of Bombay still visible and nothing of Elephanta Island, the engine conked out. We spent the next half hour alternating between staring into the ugliest, smelliest, most crap-filled waters I had ever seen, wondering how it would be to sink into that shit, and watching three or four crew members standing around the open engine hatch, seeming to think they could fix the freakin’ engine by will power alone. Somewhere down in the hold somebody was hammering at something … it was the boat ride from Hell, believe me. If they hadn’t got the damn engine started when they did, I knew I would have started heaving the crew into the water.