Thursday, March 5, 2015
The Other End of the Line (live action movie), on DVD
My movie-watching this month is starting to develop a theme: pretending to be someone you're not. Priya Sethi works nights at a Citi One Bank Card call center in India. As part of her job, she assumes an American persona – her name is Jennifer, and she lives in San Francisco. Priya loves her American culture classes and absorbs any new idioms and slang she comes across.
Priya calls Granger Woodruff because he has several potentially fraudulent charges on his credit card, and the two soon hit it off. When Granger's work requires that he go to San Francisco, he asks “Jennifer” if they could meet in person. Priya initially says no, but then she meets Vikram, the man her parents have arranged for her to marry. Marriage to Vikram might mean the end of Priya's job and any chance of adventure, so she decides she'll do one last wild and crazy thing and go see Granger in person.
This movie was okay. I have no clue how accurate the stuff in Mumbai and at the call center was, but the movie was co-produced by Indian and American companies and involved both Indian and American actors and actresses, so maybe it wasn't completely off base. I did find it odd that a company that was outsourcing its customer service would be willing to pay to train Indian employees to pretend to be Americans, but some quick googling tells me that call centers like this really do exist.
Anyway, the best thing about this movie was Priya. I loved her enthusiasm for absorbing American slang and culture. She enjoyed her job, despite its issues, and was very much an eager teacher's pet in her American culture classes (which had their own fun bits – I loved the “everyone starts in New Jersey” joke). Whereas her best friend was the voice of reason, once Priya decided to take some risks she embraced those risks wholeheartedly.
The problems with Priya's little adventure were obvious, and one of the movie's failings was that certain events were way too predictable. Priya's family freaked out when she left and then learned that she wasn't where she said she'd be – of course they'd try to find her. Although I didn't expect them to fly to San Francisco themselves, since supposedly they didn't have that kind of money. Of course Granger would learn, at the worst possible moment, that Priya and Jennifer were the same person. Of course Granger would learn that Priya was engaged and didn't tell him. Of course Granger's girlfriend, who he thought had broken up with him, would suddenly decide to show up, and Priya would misunderstand.
I didn't really like Granger at first. He seemed too materialistic, and, even by the end of the movie, I couldn't shake the feeling that his “if you can't afford it, charge it” attitude would cause problems later on. He became a bit more likable, but blander, as the story progressed. I had similar issues with his best friend and business partner, Charlie. Supposedly, Charlie was the marriage-minded one and Granger was the player, but some of the things Charlie said and did made me wonder if he was going to end up cheating on his fiancee before the movie was over. He didn't, but my suspicions tainted his happy wedding scene near the end of the movie.
All in all, this was an okay way to spend some time, but I'll probably have forgotten most of it in a week or so. It strained my suspension of disbelief more and more the closer I got to the end – Priya flying to San Francisco on a whim and not having everything go wrong, Priya's family flying to San Francisco despite supposedly not having much money, and Priya's family instantly accepting Granger at the end (her family always behaved in ways that were most convenient for the plot).