Travel Films

The Film “Outsourced” Portrays Culture Shock in a Funny and Realistic Way

I watched Outsourced last night with a friend and thought it offered an accurate portrayal of India, as seen through the eyes of an American expat.

For a plot synopsis, check out the trailer (below).

Like the film’s title suggests, a major part of the film addresses the trend of outsourcing American jobs to developing countries (where the cost of labor is a quarter of what it is the US).  While this practice is great for business, it’s bad for job creation and the clip below illustrates this.

In the scene, an American caller is angry that he’s called to order a statue of an American eagle from an American company, only to have his call rerouted to India.

But what I enjoyed most were the scenes that focused on the cultural misunderstandings between the American business man (Todd, or “Mr. Toad” as the Indians call him) and his staff of Indian customer service representatives.

The funniest dialog occurred when a culturally-ignorant Todd tries to educate his staff on American customs and unwittingly insults them in the process.

Pros:  As someone who’s visited India and experienced the bewilderment and frustration of culture shock first-hand, I enjoyed watching Todd fight with taxi drivers and field questions about his marital status.  I loved the scene where he encounters a squat toilet for the first time (no toilet paper!).  My favorite line:  “I was resisting India.  Once I gave in, I did much better.”   

Cons:  I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone who hasn’t seen it, but I thought the scenes involving kama sutra reinforced an Indian stereotype and were unrealistic and moreover, unnecessary.  I also could have done without the last minute of the film (the phone call Todd receives at the end felt like a forced effort on the part of the director to give the film a happy, RomCom ending).

Verdict:  It’s not the best film about India (I preferred Slumdog Millionaire), but it’s thought-provoking and provides a fairly realistic portrayal of Indian culture and the culture shock felt by many first-time visitors there.  I recommend it for anyone planning a trip to India.

Have you seen Outsourced?  What did you think?

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