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Mumbai Calling... Season One

Mumbai Calling... Season One“Please 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 mu
st 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 it!

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 Festival.

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 snooze button.

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 McKeown.

Mumbai 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