Love in the time of call centres

October 26th, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Oct 26 (IANS) Most Indians associate call centres with annoying phone calls in the middle of the workday. But American director James Dodson explores through them the possibilities of an intercontinental romance in a new comedy, “The Other End of the Line”.In filming the story of an unlikely romance between an Indian credit card phone operator in Mumbai and an American client living in San Francisco, Dodson says he wanted to explore the human side of the call centres rather than making a political point.

“I am not an activist or a reformer,” Dodson told IANS in a telephonic interview. “I think the controversy over outsourcing (in the US) has run its course. There is a growing realisation that jobs will be outsourced to India and other Asian countries or wherever the cost is low. As a realist one has to accept that.”

“As a filmmaker I am interested in how it affects human condition,” Dodson said, recalling how in this film “an Indian girl pretending to be in San Francisco chatting away for 20 minutes on phone with an unknown person changes a young man’s life in far away America”.

This first film in a five-year co-production deal between producer Ashok Amritraj’s US-based Hyde Park Entertainment and India’s Reliance ADAG promoted Adlabs Films is being released in the US Oct 31.

The film shot in Mumbai and San Francisco pairs “Desperate Housewives” star Jesse Metcalfe with Shriya Saran, fresh off her success in Rajinikant’s Tamil blockbuster “Sivaji: The Boss”. Dodson has nothing but praise for his young Indian star.

“Shriya was just a dream. She is gracious. She is beautiful…The way she acted in the film…she is really an accomplished actor, a person very well grounded in her profession,” said Dodson.

Also appearing in the film in the role of Saran’s father is well-known character actor Anupam Kher, who managed to impress Dodson not only with his dedication to his craft but also his amazing ability to multitask.

“A most professional actor, he is constantly thinking and stretching. He is really so interested in how to deliver his best…

“He was working on three movies at that time. One day from our sets he had to just rush to the next film. For our film he had seven pages of dialogue. So he had to not only memorise our dialogue but be ready for the next too.”

Dodson says he was attracted to the film because of its story depicting an ambitious girl in love and her attempts to attain happiness while staying true to her family. “I thought it was worthwhile as I am also a writer interested in life.”

“Filmmakers tend to bring something new and fresh to screen. I wanted to bring something new and fresh to the romantic comedy genre by portraying the love of an Indian girl with an American boy - with an American sensitivity.

Dodson recalls his experiences of filming in Mumbai thus: “Every day was an adventure. It was a big challenge because we had decided to make as much of it as possible in India…Top tier crew made it possible to work with our ambitious schedule.”

“[We] wanted to film Mumbai lovingly - portraying the city as a robust growing city without the usual stereotypes of slums and beggars.” Similarly he wanted to show San Francisco too in a different light.

His hope is that the film will appeal to Indian and Western audiences alike. “We were really trying to make it for anyone interested in romantic comedy,” he says.

With the film slated for release Oct 31, Dodson will be hoping that audiences lend the same acceptance to his romantic comedy.

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