If you've been paying attention to the news over the past several years, you've heard the term "outsourced" -- the phenomena of companies taking jobs in the United States and transitioning entire divisions to countries like India, where they can pay a fraction of the payroll and overhead to get the same job done. In Outsourced, directed by John Jeffcoat, Todd (Josh Hamilton), a customer service manager, finds himself in the odd position of being sent to India to train his replacement, after the order fulfillment division of his company is outsourced there. It's nothing personal, says his manager, Dave (Matt Smith, who perfectly deadpans the role of the ruthless boss). The added irony is that the company Todd works for sells kitschy bits of Americana -- plaster of paris bald eagles to farmers in the heartland, "cheesehead" hats to folks in Wisconsin -- and that their customers will now be purchasing their American pride collectibles through workers sitting at desks half a world away.
For Todd to complete his task successfully and get out of India and into whatever position his company will reward him with for his efforts, he must both train his replacement to do the job well and bring down the call center's call time to under six minutes -- a seemingly insurmountable goal. At first Todd comes to the task at hand with an American sensibility: Get in, score a touchdown, get the hell out and go grab a cold brewsky. But as he gets to know his Indian coworkers, he finds that he has more to learn from them than he ever anticipated. His replacement, Purohit (Asif Basra), is eager to make the call center successful, so that he can assume the managerial helm at the astounding salary of half a million rupees (about $11,000 American), which will allow him to finally marry the love of his life. For Purohit, the call center is more than a mere job; it represents to him the best opportunity he may ever have to achieve success and happiness.
As he learns more about the culture and customs of his temporary home, Todd comes to appreciate the differences that make India unique. He also comes to appreciate Asha (Ayesha Dharker), a brilliant and beautiful worker at the call center who challenges his assumptions about India and about how to get the best performance from the Indian staff. As Todd becomes more assimilated to the conventions of operating a call center out of another country, he learns to think out of the box more, setting aside everything he thought he knew about the business and reinventing it in it's new location.
Outsourced is a light, charming film that addresses the issue of outsourcing from a perspective a lot of Americans have probably never considered: That of the third world workers who both benefit from and are exploited by businesses seeking higher profits. Jeffcoat and cowriter George Wing (50 First Dates) are careful in the film to portray Indian culture without stereotyping; as strange as Todd finds his new surroundings upon his arrival, to the Indians he has come to live and work among, it is he who stands out as odd. Hamilton is appealing as Todd, and he and Dharker have a great chemistry. Outsourced should play well on the fest circuit, and it has a broad enough appeal that it could do well beyond that with the right distribution and marketing.