In the 2006 film John & Jane, director Ashim Ahluwalia follows six Mumbaikars who work in call centres and dream that their fluorescent-lit telemarketing jobs mean more than just the outsourcing of Western chores.
Stills from the film John & Jane
The film is being screened by The Root Reel as part of the Bombay Trilogy series featuring films on the city by Ahluwalia. The screening will be followed by a conversation with cinematographer KU Mohanan. The previous movie that was screened as part of the trilogy was Thin Air, which chronicled the lives of three magicians against the backdrop of contemporary Mumbai.
The 83-minute film follows the workers as they undergo accent elimination training for cultural assimilation. The telemarketers are given names like John or Jane, but their names are as false as the hopes they are peddled.
Extensive training is done to groom them to pitch products into US homes and as part of the job, they are often subjected to rudeness. But the dream for the call centre employee and the reason why they persist is a certain lifestyle that they covet.
The film has been shot on 35mm for a full-length feature film-like result and delves into the identity-warping human impact of the current economic reality.
The film’s world première was at the Toronto Film Festival (2005) and the European première was at the Berlin International Film Festival (2005). It went on to won the National Film Award for the Best First Non-Feature Film (2006).
On: Today, 6.30 pm
At: Alliance Francaise De Bombay, Theosophy Hall, 40 New Marine Lines, near Churchgate.