Tag Archives: Outsourced

‘Outsourced’ Actor Rizwan Manji and His Real-Life Trek to India

Outsourced cast with Rizwan Manji at center NBC photo

“Outsourced” actor Rizwan Manji is certainly of Indian extraction, but that doesn’t mean he felt immediately at home when he went to visit India for the first time a few years ago.  After all, Manji grew up in Toronto, and his parents hail from Tanzania.

“All my life, I considered myself Indian, but that’s just what my nationality is.  In India, they said, ‘You’re not Indian, you’re Canadian.’”

Of his journey, he adds, “I have to say, it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.  I had a one-way ticket to Thailand, and my wife and I had a bunch of money to travel, and we decided to travel ‘til we ran out of money.”  They traversed Asia, backpacked in Zanzibar, and wound up staying in India for six months.  “I ended up doing a Cadbury’s chocolate commercial and made some rupees that way,” he recalls.

And his wife?  Well, “She was approached to work in a call center. She has a New York accent, and she was asked, ‘Would you be interested in teaching our call center workers how to work in an American accent?’”

She didn’t end up taking the job.  Now, ironically enough, Manji is playing a call center worker in India, a role for which he must put on an Indian accent.  So it’s getting confusing.

Though others may complain that the Sept. 23-debuting “Outsourced” is full of negative stereotypes, Manji is definitely among those who retort that the stereotypes are workplace stereotypes.  His is the ultra-ambitious guy – but he has his reasons, says Manji.  Besides, the characters are meant to be funny because it’s a comedy, folks.

“We’re having a blast,” he adds.  “I hope people give it a chance.”  The “Outsourced” troupe has bonded by now.  Manji relates that show creator Ken Kwapis “made us all go out together. We went to a karaoke bar and sang all together.  He wanted us to be able to feel like we worked in the call center together for a long period of time.  We all feel like that really helped us getting to know each other.”

‘Outsourced’s’ Bader Stunned by Accusations Against Show

Diedrich Bader

Diedrich Bader sounds downright shocked when told of commentary, on TV.com and other sites, accusing his forthcoming NBC “Outsourced” comedy of racist stereotyping — based on the show’s trailers and promos.  The series has Ben Rappaport as the manager of a call processing center recently outsourced to Mumbai, India, for a U.S. novelty company.

“What?  The stereotypes are office stereotypes,” responds the former “Drew Carey Show” actor.  “There’s the boy who wants to get laid, the assistant manager who wants to be manager.  They’re personalities everyone recognizes.  The point is, the guy goes all the way to India and finds it’s the same office, just stranger food.”

In fact, referring to merchandise shown on the series as such as cheese wedge hats and “jingle boobs,” he points out, “The idea of seeing us through our cultural detritus — the show easily satirizes us through our novelties, our stuff, what amuses us, what we enjoy.  It’s the Americans who should be worried.”

Bader notes that because his character, Charlie, “is so removed from the Indian experience, I stayed apart from the Indian actors while we were making the pilot by design.  It wasn’t until the upfronts (new season presentations) that we hung out together as a cast.  These guys are the friendliest guys in the world.  The guy who plays Manmeet (Sacha Dhawan) is hilarious.  I loved to see how they brought the script alive.  It’s going to be so much fun.  I can’t wait to get to work.”  They start shooting in August.

“Pairing our show with ‘The Office’ on Thursday nights is perfect,” Bader adds.

Bader has been focusing on voice work (like the cartoon “Batman”) and series guest roles in recent years.  He recalls wrapping the short-lived “Center of the Universe” when he and his wife “had a brand new kid and another kid on the way.  I was really missing something.  I wanted to take some time to be with my family.”  He was ready to jump back into the series game by the time he talked to former “Drew Carey” writer Robert Borden about “Outsourced.”   Borden is now executive producer on “Outsourced” along with Ken Kwapis.  We suggest they, and NBC, batten down their hatches at premiere time.