'Searching for Sandeep' at the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival

November 3, 2009

Searching for Sandeep follows Poppy Stockwell, the film’s Sydney-based
director. After a disappointing stint on the Sydney singles scene
(insert requisite forlorn shots of Sydney’s lesbian bars here), Poppy
takes her search to the internet where she meets Sandeep Virdi, a
closeted Indian British woman who, at 31, lives with her traditional
Sikh parents. In typical 21st century form, Poppy documents the entire
thing on camera for reviewers like me to witness (and at times wince
at) the vulnerability, the awkwardness and triumph requisite in
courtship. This is perhaps Searching for Sandeep’s greatest strength.
By relying on simple filmmaking, the documentary candidly focuses on
Poppy and Sandeep’s relationship as it develops from online repartee,
to flirtatious text messaging, to a long awaited rendezvous in

Yet, the handheld camcorder captures far more than a flourishing
relationship. The film is an interesting examination of love in a
globalized world where boundaries are crossed. Some, like the
butch/femme binary in queer female relationships, are deconstructed.
Although Sandeep observes that Poppy is “quite butch” from their first,
gawky encounter, the identity becomes irrelevant as the two become
committed partners -- and as Sandeep develops her own, fluid gender
expression. Yet others, like the cultural and generational divide
between Sandeep and her parents, remain strong. By the end of the film,
facing estrangement from her conservative father, Sandeep laments,
“Without the support of your parents, you’re nothing.” Despite the
familiarity of Sandeep’s cry about the rigidity of Asian parents,
Searching for Sandeep beautifully highlights the intersection of race,
sexual orientation, geography, and generation in modern love.

Searching for Sandeep is showing this Saturday, November 7, 3:25 pm at
the Castro Theatre in San Francisco as a part of the 3rd I South Asian Film Festival.