×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Other End of the Line

The title makes it sound like a Western, but "The Other End of the Line" is more of an Eastern-Western, offering a pretty savvy take on the romantic possibilities of subcontinental telemarketing.

With:
Granger Woodruff - Jesse Metcalfe Priya Sethi - Shriya Saran Rajeev Sethi - Anupam Kher Emory Banks - Sara Foster Charlie - Austin Basis Kit Hawksin - Larry Miller

The title makes it sound like a Western, but “The Other End of the Line” is more of an Eastern-Western, offering a pretty savvy take on the romantic possibilities of subcontinental telemarketing. Girl calls boy, girl meets boy, boy loses girl and girl’s parents come from Mumbai to San Francisco to do a whole lot of handwringing in this frothy comedy from helmer James Dodson, a winning Stateside debut for beautiful Indian actress Shriya Saran. Despite its charming cast, this MGM release managed to dial up just $57,000 from 91 engagements for a per-location average of $626.

Most Americans react to Indian telemarketers the way they react to a jury summons, but they seldom get anyone as professional or as winning as Priya Sethi (Saran). Priya is the most eager-beaverish at Citi One Bank Card’s Bangalore call center, the employee with the best American accent, the most nuanced knowledge of American fast food, the one who can distinguish Sarah Jessica Parker from Mary-Louise Parker. Thus, she’s also the best at convincing Americans on the phone that she isn’t an Indian woman, but rather Jennifer David of San Francisco.

Some of scripter Tracey Jackson’s best material is in the call-center scenes, where often beleaguered, well-mannered Indians are abused daily over the phone. (“Can I get out of New Jersey?” one worker pleads. “Everyone’s swearing at me.” No, her supervisor says: “Everyone starts in New Jersey.”) Investigating a case of identity theft, Priya ends up calling good-looking Bay Area ad man Granger Woodruff (Jesse Metcalf) so often that they develop a phone relationship, which leads to expectations on both ends. The problem: Priya is being pushed into an arranged marriage and, unbeknownst to Granger, doesn’t live in San Francisco.

But that’s where they end up meeting, via a series of contrivances that should be tiresome but end up being tolerable, mostly thanks to Saran. Her Priya is in fact a little too hip for a supposedly obedient Mumbai girl — hipper than Granger, even. He and his pal and partner, Charlie (Austin Basis), are trying haplessly to develop a campaign for a chain of hotels whose owner, Kit Hawksin, as played by Larry Miller, is the other reason to see this movie. The comedian isn’t in nearly as many movies as he should be, and his timing here is hilariously deft. Where much of “The Other End of the Line” has to adhere to a daffy sweetness, Miller takes Jackson’s material into a different realm entirely.

That’s a good thing, because the rest of the film shoplifts from any number of movie romances, including “Pretty Woman,” “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” and, most shamelessly, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” But as cross-cultural bridge-builders go, pic is smart, funny and sweet enough to make you reassess your attitude next time you get reach tech support in New Delhi.

The Other End of the Line

Production: An MGM release, presented with Hyde Park Entertainment, in association with Adlabs Films, of an Ashok Amritraj production. Produced by Amritraj. Executive producers, Nick Hamson, Lars Sylvest. Directed by James Dodson. Screenplay, Tracey Jackson.

Crew: Camera (Deluxe color), Harlan Bosmajian; editors, Ethan Maniquis, Jim Mankiej; music, B.C. Smith; music supervisor, Gina Amador; production designer, Minal Rath; art director, Smita Gupta; set decorator, Kalpa Dave; costume designers, Inanna Bantu, Mandira Shukla; sound (Dolby Digital/DTS), Judy Karp; supervising sound editors, Michael Baird, Allie Fitz; casting, Emily Schweber, Shanoo Sharma. Reviewed at AMC Empire, New York, Oct. 31, 2008. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 106 MIN.

With: Granger Woodruff - Jesse Metcalfe Priya Sethi - Shriya Saran Rajeev Sethi - Anupam Kher Emory Banks - Sara Foster Charlie - Austin Basis Kit Hawksin - Larry Miller

More Film

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • 'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow

    'Curse of La Llorona' Leads Slow Easter Weekend at the Box Office

    New Line’s horror pic “The Curse of La Llorona” will summon a solid $25 million debut at the domestic box office, leading a quiet Easter weekend before Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” hits theaters on April 26. The James Wan-produced “La Llorona,” playing in 3,372 theaters, was a hit with hispanic audiences, who accounted for nearly 50% [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content