The Color of Mumbai: Outsourced exposes multiple shades of cultural differences.

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Outsourced screened at this year’s DC Labor Filmfest under the guise of a globalization parable, yet no inconvenient truths about the exportation of American jobs are revealed in the film, which is actually a sweet-natured, cross-cultural romantic comedy. Seattle call-center manager Todd (Josh Hamilton) is dispatched to a small town near Mumbai, where his company has hired an Indian crew to serve American buyers of novelty items such as cheese-head hats. The film uses genuine locations, and Todd has an authentic introduction to India: frenzied cab drivers, larcenous street kids, and food poisoning. While director John Jeffcoat’s portrait of the country is believably shabby and hectic, it’s also unconvincingly well-scrubbed and unthreatening—the kind of place a rootless, loveless Yank just might want to settle down, and Todd is soon adapting to local conditions. Most of his lessons are taught by the bright and beautiful Asha (Ayesha Dharker, who played a Sri Lankan suicide bomber in Santosh Sivan’s powerful 1999 drama, The Terrorist). Asha guides Todd toward his company’s goal of keeping sales calls under six minutes each and also shows him a good time in a small hotel’s Kama Sutra suite. (The PG-13 film includes some talk of exotic sexual positions but doesn’t demonstrate any of them.) Yet Todd and Asha understand that a long-term romance is impossible—probably. Most of the performers (who include Asif Basra as Todd’s Indian counterpart) are engaging, though Hamilton plays a generic American rather generically. The major snag is that the script (by Jeffcoat and co-writer George Wing) doesn’t conceal its machinery: Todd is sent to a guesthouse rather than a hotel only so the meddling proprietor can ask intimate questions and explain local culture, and when Todd and Asha set out to retrieve a misdirected shipment, it’s instantly obvious that the trip is intended to throw them together. Still, the film has some nice moments, notably a scene in which Todd’s new employees practice their English by delivering lines from venerable American movies. Outsourced is not in the league of the films they’re quoting, but it takes as many useful cues from Hollywood classics as Todd does from Asha.