Calling... Season One
hold the line... you are about
to embark on an impossibly confusing
journey to an Indian call centre with
the intriguing name of Teknobable
Communications where chaos reigns
and nothing ever goes according to
plan it must
be Mumbai Calling...
FRUSTRATION AND EXASPERATION is the name of the game if you have to
ring the UK call centre run from Mumbai by Kenny Gupta (Sanjeev Bhaskar: television's
Goodness Gracious Me, The Kumars at No 42) and there
doesn't seem to be much difference if you press One (for English) or
Two (for Hindi) because you will still find it difficult to make yourself understood,
let alone follow the instructions you are given!
Mumbai Calling is a seven-episode comedy series with a wonderfully funny
send-up of the call centre industry that sees television comedy favourite Sanjeev
Bhaskar starring as the British-born Indian Kenny Gupta, despatched to Mumbai
from his native Wembley to turn around the fortunes of Teknobable Communications,
acquired in a takeover deal.
Not only does Kenny have to deal with lothario manager Dev Raja (Nitin Ganatra:
Television's Eastenders), who is more interested in his own profitable
sidelines of pizza delivery, concert tickets, auto-rickshaws and discreet escorts
than working for Teknobable Communications, but he also has to break through
the language barriers, which makes for some interesting comic moments. Isn't
And with the arrival of Terri Johnson (Daisy Beaumont: Television's Star
Stories) to do an emergency on-site assessment just when Kenny has gone
AWOL and on a bender to help him get over a broken heart, Dev finds himself
coming up with some very inventive excuses for Kenny's absence. And there is
an alarming mix-up that results in Terri being left ankle deep in the mire by
Amit Prakash (Naren Chandavarkar) and having an altercation with a taxi driver.
Along with the captivating scenery of India and a 'tour' of the city, Mumbai
Calling takes advantage of some lovely photo opportunities in this colourful
location with some excellent fantasy dance scenes and the lively Ganesh Chaturthi
Storylines include additions to the company's workload, with UK callers being
supplied with live, constantly updated traffic information that seems to be
going well until they have to direct a hearse to a funeral. But luckily there
is the aforementioned very capable Mumbai taxi driver on hand to help a UK man
deliver his own child in a car…
Terri's accommodation causes problems and Sarika (Ratnabali Bhattachajee) finds
manning the Stormy Weather helpline for the UK a bit of a wash-out, with Manchester
flooding alarmingly. Then there is Amar (Namit Das) who is addicted to ice cream
and narrowly escapes being forced into an arranged marriage.
Some of the finest comedy moments involve Terri and in one episode she suggests
bringing in British actor Benedict Harlow (Richard E Grant), who specialises
in suspect modernised Shakespearean plays (Hamlet PI? I don't
think so…), to teach English to the staff. She claims she has experience
of this and says that everyone sounded like Hugh Grant… or was it Russell
Grant? Perhaps some psychic awareness would prove useful!
Far from politically correct, Benedict causes more mayhem and is finally ousted,
only to return just in the nick of time with his friend, heartthrob actor Chunky
La Funga (Chunky Pandey), to save the day when Godfather-styled Don Kholi (Dalip
Tahil) tries to extort £100,000 in cash from Teknobable Communications.
Great fun to watch, Mumbai Calling is highly entertaining and uplifting
with amusing dialogue. Bravely taking a dig at the British, there are some terrific
lines. When Dev says that the British invented hard work, dedication and punctuality,
he is reminded that they also invented the three-day week, the sickie… and the
Luckily there is not a great deal of toilet humour but I did find what there
was a trifle wearing, although I loved the following comment after one of Kenny's
staff tries to offer a caller a free mobile phone and gets a rude response:
"Well, if I did shove it up there it would still get excellent reception
that's the beauty of the Slimphone D-17." Classic! And Daisy Beaumont is deliciously
over-the-top when she is coaching a team to operate The Love Lines and gives
away a heartbreaking moment from her past.
Airing on prime time ITV1, Mumbai Calling features a fantastic cast of
popular television personalities. Writer and star Sanjeev Bhaskar is joined
by Nitin Ganatra (television's Eastenders) and Daisy Beaumont (television's
Star Stories) as Terri Johnson. Mumbai Calling also features the
voices of Tracey Ullman; Joe Duttine; John Standing; Jo Butler and Tahira Thapar.
Original Music is by Vivex Rajagopalan; Director of Photography is S Nallamuthu;
Producer is Ned Parker and Director is Allan McKeown. Written by Sanjeev Bhaskar
and Simon Blackwell, Mumbai Calling is based on an original idea by Allan
Calling… Season One is available to buy on DVD on 20 July (2009) courtesy
of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in a two-disc set featuring a host of extras,
including: An interview with Bhaskar and Ganatra and a Making Of, complete with
Outtakes, Bombay Bloopers, Deleted scenes and a Tribute to Mumbai.
"Great fun to watch, Mumbai Calling is highly entertaining and uplifting
with amusing dialogue" Maggie Woods, MotorBar