Outsourced returns to NBC's Thursday night comedy lineup on Thursday, March 17 at 10:30 PM. Rizwan Manji and Parvesh Cheena are two of the stars of this new show, and they both recently held a conference call to discuss the first season. Take a look at what they had to say below.
Parvesh I understand that you're the one in the cast most likely to be found clowning around with the novelty toys that are props in the show.
Parvesh Cheena: That's true.
It's true are you playing pranks with them on the set? What are some of your favorites and please bear in mind that your costar is on the line to set everyone straight if you don't come clean.
Rizwan Manji: Unfortunately.
Parvesh Cheena: Riz tends to fall asleep during filming because we generally have like 14 hour days. Because we're in the call center all of us all day. So when you're with people five days a week for that long of time you start to get a little silly. And so Rizwan falls asleep and our favorite past time is to see how many people we can get behind him and take photos and videos of him. iz is that true?
Rizwan Manji: The most fun you could ever have. And taking videos of up my nostril which I think it's really great it's up on Hulu so that's always wonderful to see.
What were your expectations when you signed on with this show? What did you hope it would amount to? And has it met or surpassed your expectations?
Rizwan Manji: When I read the pilot it's been over a year now that when I first read the pilot. And honestly when I read it I thought it was the funniest> We read a lot of pilots during pilot season. And it was by far the funniest pilot that I had read in a really long time. And I had called my agent right away and was like please, this is the one that we have to get. It's always a day to day thing. I was just so happy to get on the show. And then you know, it was quite an amazing thing. We just didn't know if the show was going to get picked up. There has never been a show like this on TV before where you have five foundation actors as series regulars on a TV show. We didn't know NBC was going to pick this up. And you know, if they do pick it up are people going to watch it? I'm so proud of this show and it's all been a really big blessing. Like the people have been so supportive of this show. And people are watching it every week and you know, finding it funny and we celebrate the Indian culture. Like in the upcoming episode on Thursday night, the whole episode revolves around this holiday called Holy where you know, color is thrown around all over it's a religious celebration. No other show are we celebrating Indian culture as much as we do on this show. So to answer your question in a short answer I think it by far exceeds any expectation I had of what the show could be.
Parvesh Cheena:Rizwan and I literally auditioned against each other. So we still take a moment that we're working together. And the fact that they're so many of us that we get to be all apart of this family. And Holy is one of those holidays where it's just about fun. And the fact that it is accessible you know, our show, our writers you know, we've got a good third of them are of South Asian decent. They bridge the gap, they really do make it you know, with respect to the cultural - the culture and tradition. As well as making it so accessible and understanding for an American audience. You know, actually for a global audience you know, we're getting a lot of fan mail from Singapore and Malaysia even.
Was it instant chemistry with the cast when you guys began working together?
Parvesh Cheena: Well, a lot of us had worked together before. And then Riz and I have known each other for years. Primarily because like you become audition friends. Riz you've come to a couple of my improv and sketch shows.
Rizwan Manji: Mm-hm, yes. And, for us - I mean I've worked - I've known Parvesh and some of the other actors I've known of them but hadn't worked with them before. But you know, we had a couple of weeks once we had gotten cast in the show to when we actually starting shooting with rehearsals and sort of everybody getting together. And one of our Executive Producers Ken Kwapis sent us out on a karaoke day where we spent the whole day at like a karaoke place. I think we just we hit it off right away. And I think that's what kind of show - you kind of compete on the show I feel that we're really good friends and we hang out on the weekends as well.
Parvesh Cheena: Not just on the weekends.
Rizwan Manji: It kind of disruptive to my real life. But you know...
Parvesh Cheena: Love it, who else is going to out late night food when you're wife's asleep.
Rizwan Manji: I know that's right.
Parvesh Cheena: We do. Like we literally have watched every episode including the - even some of the encore episodes. We watch them together as a cast. And like a lot of our friends, family whenever they come to town they come and join us. So even like this Thursday we're going over to one of our director - our director Victor Nelli Jr. one of our producers too. Victor Nelli has directed the upcoming Todd's Holy War episode which is the one that's airing this Thursday. And so it's Victor's baby. So we're going to be over at his house as a cast kind of potlucking it and watching. And we've done that every week. I think friends we might be helping Anisha move tomorrow and we just always go out to eat have a drink everything.
Why do you think people keep tuning in to watch Outsourced?
Parvesh Cheena: Because Indians are hot. I can only speak for Riz and myself about the attractiveness of Indians.
Rizwan Manji: Because moustaches are in.
Parvesh Cheena: That's it.
Rizwan Manji: You know what, as I said before I think that there is this - there is a unique quality about this show where it's kind of endearing. There is something you know, it's hard to talk about it because I'm in the show. But watching it as a audience member and you know, the feedback that we get there is something - there is something about this show where you - you know, the characters are so - they're happy to be there and there is something very sort of endearing about the show. And I think that's why people keep tuning in. There is these characters that you're sort of like you know, falling in love with minus Gupta...
Parvesh Cheena: There is a very sweet quality you know, we could have the comedy without the snark and that's just so nice. You know, I like a good sarcastic joke every so often like anyone. But it's just nice to see someone really trying and making the effort. And to be fair Riz even Rajiv has a little bit of a sweet side in this upcoming episode as well.
Rizwan Manji: And there is something really at the end of this episode something really a big special moment for Rajiv that you know, that we've been waiting to happen. And it's definitely tune in to see what happens because Rajiv gets something that he's been looking forward to for a really long time. So I mean I'll throw that in there.
Parvesh Cheena: Well I'm going to tell them. He shaves his moustache.
Gupta is hilarious from his obsession to being a Bollywood star and of course wanting all the attention. What is your favorite part about playing the role?
Parvesh Cheena: Well you know, especially even that with our A Star is Born episode I think it shows - you know, how even in the states we all have this idea like you know, everyone who wants to be you know, the next best singer, next best dancer that's those same wants and desires are in India too. So the great thing about that episode for me, let alone getting to make my whole family proud and you know, cry and squeal with delight the fact that I did do a full Bollywood dance number was the fact that we can show that you know, the same wants and you know, dreams are universal. The fun that Gupta kind of taps into where I get a lot of like messages of Facebook and Twitter from like kids. And I think it's because he is kind of a man child you know? You know? He's a little socially awkward maybe not the most developed.
Rizwan Manji: Sort of like you as a person.
Parvesh Cheena: As a person, thank you Riz. But you know, like equally like Riz what I'll say for you like Rajiv gets those like great one liner and zingers. Gupta - I get a lot of physical humor, and I get a lot of just kind of like site gags. And kind of like that victim humor that just makes people go aww, we're laughing at you. We feel bad, but we're still laughing at you.
So for both of you what do you see similarities between your character and yourself? Are there similarities, or are there severe differences?
Rizwan Manji: I am the meanest. Oh no, I need to curb what I say. You know there is his ambition and his drive for you know, we know that he's so badly wanting to get married to the love of his life. And that ambition and the fact that he'll do anything? I might not go about it the same way that he does, but I feel like I definitely connect to that drive and that ambition of what he really wants. I feel like that's where I go at it with Rajiv is I think totally understand where he's coming from. It's like it lets him take all that. And then go into the way that he goes about doing it.
Rizwan since you're from Canada is there a big difference between call centers in the US and up north? Like do you think the comedy will be the same?
Rizwan Manji: Oh my God, I have a feeling that it would be exactly the same. I've been living in the United States for a really long time. However, I go to Canada like you know, twice a year. And I've definitely been on calls to call centers. And I feel like they're getting routed to the same place. So I think what you expect they do the same thing. I feel like I - might I - I fell like every time I call I get the exact same human being. Just the same (like) different call. So my answer to this would be it's very similar. There was a documentary that I was a part of it was on call centers. And it was a Canadian documentary. But you know, they went around the globe talking about different call centers and how they work. And what they found out was that it's pretty much it - everybody is going through a similar global experience.
Parvesh can you give us more insight into your character for Gupta's hit and many misses?
Parvesh Cheena: Yes we dove into a little bit of a HR nightmare in that episode. Let's just say that a certain person gets slapped - or does he by another person who one of those parties might be on this conference call right now.
Rizwan Manji: Oh God. I was going to say it's actually funny how this story, the plot of this episode actually came about.
Parvesh Cheena: That's true, yes.
Rizwan Manji: Me and Parvesh, we were doing a scene from Home Sick to My Stomach which was an episode that aired a couple of months ago. And in one of the scenes that me and Parvesh were acting, I was like Parvesh, do you mind if I slap you, I think it would be kind of funny? And I think you know, in no other show could your boss slap you. I think Rajiv has gotten to that point where this would just be funny.
Parvesh Cheena: And he was on the brink. I mean like your character was stressed out.
Rizwan Manji: Yes that episode I was sick, and I was the manager, and so we did it. And then thanks to them, they let me slap him seven times in that episode. And after that that they were going to cut all of it, but I was so happy that I got to slap him seven times. It was like the most fun I've ever had on that set.
Parvesh Cheena: And they've decided to bring it into a new episode which is coming up.
Rizwan Manji: So he said you know what, we like that so now we're going to bring in this story line into there. So that's how this story line came about.
Parvesh Cheena: Riz let's not forget to toot our own horns. We are theatre actors and we had a lot of stage combat training.
Rizwan Manji: That's right.
Parvesh Cheena: No Gupta's were harmed in the making of that episode.
Rizwan Manji: I tried to harm some Gupta's. I was hoping that...
Parvesh Cheena: It's a really Gupta's hits and misses. It's a fun episode because it's also one of our first like big guest star cameos by The Great Khali. He's one of those superstars of WWE.
Parvesh Cheena: So it was really fun to act with someone who when you are standing you are almost the same height as him when he is sitting down.
One of the things that I really love about the show is this process of discovery that your team collectively the ensemble of actors goes through about Americans and Ben Rappaport's Todd does about India. And I was wondering if you could talk about some of the things we can look forward to on either side, either prospective with the upcoming episodes.
Rizwan Manji: Well definitely for this Thursday's night episode as we mentioned there is this celebration of Holy that Todd's character has absolutely knows nothing about, he actually just walks in. He comes in he's you know, in our alley outside the call center and he doesn't understand what's going on. He's getting you know, pelted with color and it's definitely the whole episode he's figuring out what this is. And he's actually ends up using it you know, there is - using the Holy experience to his advantage. And that's why we have the title called Holy War. It's quite - so that's one of the experiences that's I feel like you're referring to that comes up right away in our next episode.
Parvesh Cheena: Anything else? Well you know the fun thing about it like he's kind of like the cultural learning's on both ends. For me I was raised Sikh which is you know, one of the Indian religions. And I also didn't know about some of the Hindu aspects the religious aspects of some holidays. Like Holy I didn't know about you know, the religious significance. I just knew like I was a kid it was the holiday where you got to pelt everyone with color you know, with powder. I'm learning a lot myself. It's been really an educational experience for me to be on Outsourced.
I'm really curious to know if Todd is going to get an idea to expand his career and maybe start marketing like the (Gadesh), you know, the (Alcazar) for law enforcement in the catalogue and like try to educate Americans. Do you think that they'll go there with that kind of branching out and commercializing some of the Hindu Gods?
Rizwan Manji: Actually I think they do that, that's made in China catalogue though.
What has been the most surprising thing in scene for either one of you as actors filming this comedy. Any great anecdotes has anything really stuck in your minds in the taping on this show in the last season?
Rizwan Manji: Well like when we've gone out like even as a cast, honestly we do go out to like lunch and dinners quite often. It's like when adults come up to us, but when kids have come up to us, it really touches your heart. Because like wow, like when I was a kid and watching like The Cosby Show and Friends thinking about like those actors. And when kids like you know, you see them kind of like hiding behind their parent, or like their parents dragging them and they come up to us and tell them that they love the show, they love our character what is Madhuri really like, you know. That's been one of the moments where like wow, we are really like giving some humor and levity to people's lives. Kids of Indian descent, kids of any you know, ethnic origin it's just been really fun that we've got a show that they can tap into and kind of look up to us in a sense.
Will we see your cast would the call center somehow brought to America for training?
Rizwan Manji: I'd love that. I would love to go to Disneyland. Outsource in Disneyland.
Parvesh Cheena: Call center goes to Disneyland.
Rizwan Manji: Is there am India Village in Epcot Center?
Parvesh Cheena: I don't think so. That's going to be the new thing.