It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
There is nothing in India more mysterious than the lovely land itself. The riot of colors, the careless jumble of the cities, the frequent friendliness and good humor of a people who are so different from us, except that, often, they speak the same language. More or less.
"Outsourced" begins with an American sent to India to train the low-paid employees of a new call center for his company, American Novelty Products. It sells, he explains, "kitsch to redneck schmucks." His Indian assistant asks him, "Excuse me. What is 'redneck'? What is 'kitsch'? What is 'schmuck'?" And what are these products? American eagle sculptures. Wisconsin cheesehead hats. Branding irons for your hamburgers.
The American is named Todd (Josh Hamilton), although everyone hears it wrong and calls him "Mr. Toad." His assistant has a much more sensible name, Purohit N. Virajnarianan (Asif Basra). Although wages are low in India, Purohit will make 500,000 rupees as the new manager. That comes out to about $11,000, enough for him to realize a long-delayed marriage to his betrothed.
Todd is a stranger in a very strange land. Some of his experience reminded me of my own at the Calcutta and Hyderabad film festivals. He wildly overtips a beggar woman at the airport. He finds himself riding in one of those three-wheeled open-air taxis. He makes the mistake of eating street food. He encounters new definitions of the acceptable (on a crowded bus, a young boy politely stands up to offer Todd his seat, then sits back down on his lap). He is constantly bombarded by offers to go here, go there, buy this, see that. Sometimes these offers are worth listening to, as when they lead him to a charming rooming house.