“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.”