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Indian call center boom a boon for filmmakers

September 2006
Indian call center boom a boon for filmmakers

It was while chatting with a call center worker in India that Sonali Gulati got the idea for Nalini by Day, Nancy by Night, a film that "explores the complexities of globalization, capitalism and identity." An assistant professor of film studies in the U.S., Gulati found it interesting that the caller, who'd pronounced her name perfectly, had an American name and accent. The roles seemed curiously reversed because it was Gulati, an immigrant, who had an Indian name and accent. This widely praised documentary, the winner of five awards, has so far been screened at thirty festivals. It seems like the outsourcing boom is a hot topic even for filmmakers. Around the time John and Jane was shown at the recent Film Festival of India in Atlanta, it bagged an award at the European Media Arts Festival. This film focuses on the lives of six call center employees in India. And Chetan Bhagat's One Night @ the Call Centre, a best-selling novel, will be made into a movie. Also worth mentioning is 1-800-INDIA, a documentary that was recently shown on PBS. Another documentary, Bombay Calling, telecast last month on the National Geographic Channel, won the grand jury prize at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles. India Calling, on the other hand, is a fictional look at call centers; so is American Daylight, a Bollywood film that dwells on an improbable romance between a call center employee in India and a wealthy American client. More such films could be on the way, considering that about 350,000 people already work at Indian call centers.

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