Ben Rappaport, Anisha Nagarajan, and Robert Borden Talk NBC’s OUTSOURCED


NBC’s new Thursday night workplace comedy OUTSOURCED is a fish out of water tale where Todd Dempsey (Ben Rappaport) is a newly promoted call center manager at Mid America Novelties who is transferred to Mumbai, India when the call center is outsourced there.

Daemon’s TV was there when executive producer Robert Borden and series stars Ben Rappaport and Anisha Nagarajan recently talked to the press about the show and their characters.

On talk that Outsourced is offensive to American workers

When asked about online chatter that the show is offensive to Americans who have lost their jobs, Robert stressed that we should take it all with a grain of salt because there are a vocal few who have been posting in multiple places. He understands why people who haven’t yet seen Outsourced might feel this way, and he urged people to watch and see for themselves.

Robert went on to explain that the actual outsourcing in the pilot is simply a point of departure for the ultimate fish out of water story. It isn’t really addressed after the pilot and instead the focus becomes Todd finding his way in a new country and forming a surrogate family with his officemates.

On the 2006 film

When asked how close the series is to 2006’s Outsourced film, Robert said that the show is more of a straight comedy than the film, which was a romantic comedy. He also stressed that because of the longer nature of television–they’ve already shot twelve episodes–it will necessarily diverge from the film and viewers will learn much more about the characters than they could with the movie.

Ben on joining the show

When asked why he chose to join Outsourced, Ben joked that it was because he was cast in it. He said that he read the script and Todd reminded him of his father so he did his audition as an homage to his dad.

This is Ben’s first screen role and he had to move to Los Angeles from New York, so he said that his story in some ways parallels Todd’s. He also noted that his biggest challenge so far is driving in LA. Anisha, another New York transplant, immediately agreed.

On the character of Madhuri

Anisha’s character Madhuri is a quiet wallflower, and when Anisha was asked about how she likes playing that, she answered that she can relate to Madhuri because there are times she wishes she could disappear into the wallpaper. She thinks everyone feels like that at one time or another. She also said she finds Madhuri to be innocent and charming

As for how Madhuri evolves after the pilot, Anisha said that she is quite witty and is starting to come out of her shell. She has smart responses to people and while she doesn’t have much experience with other cultures, she really wants to learn.

Anisha talked about a year she spent in India when she went to a boarding school and said that one of her inspirations for Madhuri was another student who was very smart but never talked. If you went up to her, though, Anisha said you realized just how on top of things she was. Anisha said that’s what Madhuri is like.

Robert said that before casting Anisha, he and the other producers had struggled with the Madhuri character, fearing she might be too one note, but Anisha took care of that.

On cast chemistry

According to Anisha, one of the reasons there is such great chemistry between the cast members is that executive producer/director Ken Kwapis had everyone go out and do karaoke in character. She called it a fun day, saying they did duets and Parvesh Cheena (Gupta) sang loudly over her.

Ben called the set a “magical place,” saying he could sense chemistry and a bond even during testing and that they have become like a repertory troupe. They already know each other and play really well off each other already and he claimed there isn’t a single jerk on set.

On the Thursday night time slot

Anisha said they’ve been very blessed with their time slot and hope that people watch-either accidentally or on purpose-and like the show because the characters are charming and unique

Ben likes the workplace theme NBC has going on Thursday nights but said that Outsourced is different than the other shows because the people at Mid America actually want to be there.

On Pranks

Because Mid America sells novelties, Anisha and Ben were asked if any of the cast pulled pranks using those novelties, and they both-through laughter-said yes. Apparently Parvesh is the biggest culprit and the cast clown while Anisha is the biggest victim. She said it has been constant and that if Parvesh doesn’t tease her, she has to ask him what’s wrong.

On what we can expect from Outsourced

Robert said that the first twelve episodes take us out of the call center on several occasions. We’ll see characters’ homes, a packed train, and a Bollywood concert.

Episode 12 will focus on an American Idol-type competition. While in the break room, Todd will hear some beautiful singing coming from the bathroom. When he learns it’s Madhuri singing, he signs her up for a talent competition, but it’s his dream, not hers. She only has the nerve to sing in the bathroom.

The Outsourced series premiere airs Thursday, September 23 at 9:30pm/8:30 central. You can find all of our Outsourced coverage here.

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