Mumbai Calling now on DVD

Sunday, 12 July 2009 14:11

Sanjeev Bhaskar, well known from Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at No 42, stars in this timely comic analysis of the call centre industry, Mumbai Calling...  For those of you who have missed it over the last seven Saturday nights on ITV1 (and who could blame you, given that it’s had so little publicity), it’s now available on DVD.

Sanjeev plays British born Kenny Gupta, who is sent over to Mumbai from the UK to turn around the fortunes of ‘Teknobable’, a call centre acquired in a takeover deal. Things do not go to plan when Kenny is confronted by the lothario manager Dev (Nitin Ganatra – postman Masood Ahmed in Eastenders), who is more interested in his own profitable sidelines, and assorted ladies, than the business itself.  Daisy Beaumont of Star Stories fame gets involved in the chaos as assessor Terri Johnson – who turns up on their doorstep, surprising everyone, as from the name they expected her to be a man.

Mumbai Calling DVDWith Sanjeev a key component of not only the on-screen chemistry but also the script writing, this is a series which could have done so much for the image of call centres, if only it had received the exposure and viewers it thoroughly deserved.  At the moment, the general public attitude to overseas call centres is to see it from our own customer-focused point of view.  We fail to think how difficult it is for the people at the other end to get their head around our British culture.  It’s not their fault, after all, that companies decide to place their call centre business overseas!

The show had a pilot episode, that was screened on 30 May 2007, and it was exactly two years later, 30 May 2009, that the series made its debut on Saturday nights on ITV1.  Yes, you got it – the schedulers weren’t sure what to do with it, so only ended up screening it at the height of summer almost a year later than originally planned, with the hope it could go out with no-one complaining about its ratings.  They were rewarded with almost five million viewers for the first segment, as it followed the final of Britain’s Got Talent, but by week two it had already lost half of its audience.

Writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran had been involved with the pilot, which unfortunately is not included in this set for comparison, save for a short scene within the comprehensive 67 minute documentary you will find on Disc 2.  There is also a 12 minute interview with Sanjeev Bhaskar and Nitin Ganatra, and these items together give you an exhaustive summary of filming in Mumbai (which used to be known as Bombay).  Indeed, producer Allan McKeown’s wife is Tracey Ullman, and her home movie of visiting the set is included for a fascinating glimpse behind-the scenes.  The documentary, by the way, also includes deleted scenes and bloopers.

The first pilot is an interesting animal judging by the descriptions available; it would appear to be a completely different angle to the seven episodes that we eventually received.  Its focus was not so Mumbai-centric, with more of the UK end of the operation being portrayed.  In many respects it looks like making it entirely based in India actually improved the format; limiting the scope of the series actually benefited its focus.

The enthusiasm and love that was put into the production is evident in the episodes even before you get around to seeing the supporting bonus features.  With so few people being aware of it, this is likely to become a show that in the near future will quite rightly be considered to be eligible for the badge “Cult TV”.

Mumbai Calling is out as a two disc DVD set on 20 July 2009, certificate “12” with a running time of 315 minutes approx for the episodes, with nearly and hour and a half of extras, and a RRP of £19.99 (or less from )

Thanks to Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and Cineology, you had a chance to put one of three copies of the Mumbai Calling DVD set onto your mantelpiece, in a prize competition.  All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Which acting icon played Benedict Harlow in the episode "Good Sellers"? The answer was Richard E Grant, and the three winners were Sally Marham of Stevenage, Kathy Morrell of Newthorpe, and Amy Hobbs of Norwich. Well done all!



MUMBAI CALLING – Episode Guide



Sanjeev Bhaskar as Kenny Gupta

Nitin Ganatra as Dev

Daisy Beaumont as Terri Johnson

Ratnabali Bhattacharjee as Sarika

Naren Chandavarkar as Amit

Preetika Chawla as Nayna

Siddarth Kumar as Prem

Samar Sarila as Nikhil

Namit Das as Amar

Raoul Amar Abbas as Sweety Singh

Vivek Gomber as Lovely Singh

Anaitha Nair as Bindiya

Puja Sarip as Geeta

Tracey Ullman, Joe Duttine, John Standing and Jo Butler as Telephone Callers


01 - Teknobable

An assessor is sent by head office to investigate the centre and Kenny is surprised when it turns out to be an attractive woman.

First ITV Transmission: 30 May 2009


02 - Home Comforts

Kenny scheme to launch a new services for drivers in the United Kingdom doesn't go exactly to plan. Dev offers Terri a place to stay. Kenny is jealous when he finds out that Terri is staying with Dev and his family.

First ITV Transmission: 6 June 2009


03 - Good Sellers

Terri employs English actor Benedict Harlow (Richard E Grant) to run a training programme to help the staff improve their English accents. A local gangster demands protection money from Dev, while Kenny slips into the world of Bollywood fantasy.

First ITV Transmission: 13 June 2009


04 - Boy to Man

Terri decides that the operators need to gain some more self confidence, and a training course is the only solution. Amar is chosen as the first subject at the Assertiveness Workshop, and the results surprise everyone.

First ITV Transmission: 20 June 2009


05 - Dating Season

Dev insists on helping Kenny with a keynote speech after accepting an engagement on his behalf. But Kenny forgets his notes and is distracted on the podium by Dev, when he sees him at the dinner with Terri. All is not lost, as Kenny wins the raffle - he has to decide who to invite on the weekend away that is his prize.

First ITV Transmission: 27 June 2009


06 - My Mate Mumbai

A frustrated Kenny decides he needs to return to London, but to do so he needs to sort out the call centre's accounts. Discovering that Dev has made an inordinate mess of the company's credit card database, dreams of England may have to be put on hold. Meanwhile, the team have to deal with a lonely suicidal caller (voiced by Nigel Planer).

First ITV Transmission: 4 July 2009


07 - All That Glitters Is Not Glass

After spending the night with Terri at her flat, Kenny leaves some of his personal belongings there. When he finds out that his boss, Phillip Glass (Denis Lawson) is on the way to see Terri at her flat, he employs Dev to get his things out of there before Glass shows up. It all goes horribly wrong, leaving Phillip to offer Dev a new job while Kenny needs Terri’s help to save his career.

First ITV Transmission: 11 July 2009




Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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