I like the new NBC show Outsourced, not so much because of the products sold by its Mid America Novelties (which I’ve noticed recently are actually on sale through its website-shameful!), but because of the tidbits-sometimes stereotypical, but still fresh-that we learn about Indian culture, and even more because of the actors on the show, who are original and funny.
Most of them seem to be Indian, but in fact they are not. They have Indian parents or grandparents, but most of the actors on Outsourced were raised in the United States or the United Kingdom, by Indian parents. I’ll share the biographical information I found about each of these characters.
Manmeet, the handsome young man who would like to meet women and loves American culture, is played by twenty-five-year-old Sacha Dhawan, born in Manchester, England, to Hindu Punjabi parents. The award-winning actor has played on television (The Deep, with Minnie Driver, and The Last Train, among other appearances), in movies and on the British stage. He playedAktharin the original production of Allan Bennett’s The History Boys, and reprised that role on film.
Assistant managerRajiv Gidwani is Rizwan Manji in real life, born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and raised in Calgary, Alberta. His ancestors lived in a village in Gujarat, India, but both his parents were raised in Tanzania, East Africa. His expressive face is a familiar one on on American TV shows, including Will and Grace, Glee, and How I Met Your Mother. In films, he has had supporting roles in Charlie Wilson’s War, Transformers, and the upcoming Morning Glory.
The tall Indian beauty working at the Mid America Novelties call center and distracting Todd from his managerial duties is Asha on the show, but in real life-Rebecca Hazlewood. A British actress of Punjabi Sikh Indian descent, Ms. Hazlewood was seen in the independent film Kissing Cousins as Zara in 2008, in a recurring role on ER as Jaspreet, and on the British TV drama Bad Girls as Arun Parmar.
Customer service rep Gupta, who annoys everyone with his incessant talking but is lovable just the same, is portrayed by Parvesh Cheena, who, most surprising to me, was born in Naperville, Illinois, and attended the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University, where he studied musical theater. His credits begin with over twenty national commercials but don’t end there. He has an illustrious resume that includes theater, improv, television (ER, West Wing) and film (Because I Told You So with Diane Keaton, Barbershop and Barbershop 2, among others).
Madhuri (Anisha Nagarajan) is the quiet, shy girl who seems to be afraid of her own shadow but eventually finds her own voice in the call center. Anisha played the lead role of Priya on Broadway in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Bombay Dreams. She has appeared on television in, among other things, Ugly Betty. The lovely Anisha grew up in Pittsburgh, where her father Nandu is a professor at the Katz Graduate School at the University of Pittsburgh and her mother worked at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic as a developmental specialist. Both of her parents grew up in India, and Anisha spent a year at a boarding school there when she was fifteen.
Charlie Davies is an American on Outsourced, played by an American, Diedrich Bader, who was born in Alexandria, Virginia, but lived in Paris from the age of two until he went to high school. His character on Outsourced is the manager of the All American Hunter call center. Charlie has peanut butter and jelly mailed to him and is not interested in Indian food or culture.
Ben Rappaport, raised in Spring, Texas, plays the American manager of the Mid America Novelties call center in Mumbai. Todd Dempsy is constantly defending his position against assistant manager Rajiv while trying to understand the Indian culture he works in. He makes a lot of mistakes and learns the hard way-but he is good-natured and usually liked by his employees-except when his cross-cultural faux pas are egregious.
All of the actors do an excellent job. As I’ve said before, the only thing I don’t like is the sales pitch on the show for the edible undies, fake vomit, penis-related items and so on. Cheerio!
Also see my articles:
Outsourced is Funny and Refreshing, Not Racist
Outsourced Episode 7 Teaches Indian Culture
Outsourced Episode 10 Is Funny If at Times Crude
Manmeet bio 1
Manmeet bio 2
Manmeet bio 3
Asha bio 1
Asha bio 2
Gupta bio 1
Gupta bio 2
Madhuri bio 1
Madhuri bio 2
Charlie Davies bio
Ben Rappaport bio 1
Ben Rappaport bio 2