By now, almost everyone in the world has heard the terms outsourcing and call centers. You know that the terms have entered the public consciousness when Hollywood and Bollywood start making films about the lifestyle that has developed around these wonders of modern customer service. For the few that aren’t aware, chances are that when you pick up the phone and dial that one eight hundred number, you won’t be reaching someone local, but rather, your call will go thousands of miles away to a call center in India.
So, what if you call your bank for some tender loving care and an attractive sounding person picks up on the other end of the line? Can love be sparked from thousands of miles away? Is life truly full of surprises? Would you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen? What happens when cultures clash? “The Other End of the Line” is a film that presents us with some wonderful light-hearted answers to those questions in a breezy romantic manner.
Call centers have created a sub-culture, and several movies have tried to capitalize on this. Films like the Bollywood film “Hello” and the Hollywood film “Outsourced” have resorted to clichéd situations and campy humor, but what sets “The Other End of the Line” apart from those other rom coms (romantic comedies) is that the humor is not forced down the audience’s throat, nor is the romance. Instead, both come off with a sweet sensitivity, resulting in a film that is not only entertaining, but tugs at the heart strings as well.
As for the story itself, it focuses on Priya Sethi portrayed excellently by Bollywood actor Shriya Saran, a Mumbaiite working at a call center. Answering customer service questions for Americans, requires her to “fool” her clients into believing that she is right around the corner, in the good ole U.S. of A. She’s bored with life, and engaged to a momma’s boy that she finds a bit repulsive. Jesse Metcalf plays Granger Woodruff (a groan inducing name), an ad executive halfway around the world. You see, he’s going through some tough times, with his job, with his girlfriend, and with his life. Looks like he needs some Indian fusion love stat! The two make a love connection over the phone, and Priya decides to fly to San Francisco to meet the man whose voice she’s fallen in love with. Unfortunately, Granger has no idea that the woman that he’s been talking to on the phone is actually Indian and not American.
Director James Dodson, has a light handed approach, switching locales from India to San Francisco with ease, giving each of the cast an opportunity to be in the spotlight in a way that leaves the viewer pleasantly surprised by the wit of the screenplay. The screenplay, written by Tracy Jackson, requires a bit of the old suspension of disbelief during several moments as the coincidences pile up, yet as a viewer (and romantic at heart), we always find ourselves touched by romance done right in a movie. What elevates the screenplay is the quite apparent chemistry between Saran and Metcalf. The two actors are instrumental in conveying the first flutterings of love, with Indian and American spices thrown into the mix. Saran in particular really steals the show, as she is able to show a wide range of emotions as the woman who is putting her heart on the line. Still, the two would be nowhere without the excellent supporting cast consisting of Anupam Kher (star of numerous films like "Bend it Like Beckham" and "A Wednesday") who plays the Indian girl’s overly hyperventilating father Rajeev Sethi. It’s his character’s traditional Indian values that drive him to try and “save” his Indian daughter from the “lecherous” American boy. Also of note, is the oddball humor that is brought into play by comedian/actor Larry Miller (“Get Smart”) whose role as the eccentric owner Kit Kawkskin of the hotel that has hired Granger’s ad agency brings just enough quirkiness to the film, to lighten every frame he is in.
I have to mention that the film on the whole has a very romantic light ‘n’ airy feel to it throughout, and that’s thanks to the very good work by cinematographer Harlan Bosmajian. The editing by Ethan Maniguis allows the film to breathe without stretching the plot interminably and keeps the viewer interested all through the movie. All in all, a fine looking motion picture produced by Ashok Amritraj (who has previously produced quite a few films, including the Steve Martin movie, “Shopgirl”). Bollywood producer Adlabs and Hollywood’s MGM studio have gotten together to create a movie that rises above to become that elusive creature that all studios hope for, namely, an entertaining film.
Will Granger accept that he has fallen in love with an Indian girl? Will the girl’s father save her from the American Boy? Will the Indian girl live happily ever after as she chases her dream of marrying someone she actually loves? Will Granger be able to dodge rickshaws to reach the girl he loves!?!? Why is it that Granger doesn’t need to stand in line to get a tourist visa!?! Tune in to the breezy, light hearted, romantic comedy, “The Other End of the Line” to find out!
MGM DVD/VIDEO brings us the NTSC region 1 DVD. It is presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio, widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 surround sound. The main menu is artistic in design, but the disc itself is bare bones with no special features. The lack of features detracts a bit from the home entertainment experience, as it would have been nice to see the trailers, and perhaps a behind the scenes feature. As for the film itself, the transfer is clean with warm colors, clear black levels, and no noticeable digital artifacts. The sound mixing is well done and effective. All in all, this is a disc and film worth adding to both a Bollywood and Hollywood enthusiast’s collection.