‘Where’s Sandra?’ is a short 18-minute documentary exploring stereotypes of Catholic girls from Bandra, a Bombay suburb. Through this film, director and writer, Paromita Vohra embarks on a playful journey to figure out who is ‘Sandra from Bandra’. A term used by people in Bombay to describe a specific kind of women, who are Catholic, educated and working. Speaking to multiple people and using footage from popular films, the director takes us along with her to find ‘Sandra from Bandra’.
‘Where’s Sandra?’ is a narrative about how ‘Sandra from Bandra’ is part of some people’s identity, a term that comes with its own set of meanings and stereotypes. An identity that some accept with pride while some choose to disassociate with. “It’s more of a feeling than being part of a community,” says Ritu Dewan, who is proud to call herself ‘Sandra from Bandra’. In the film, we also see some people questioning the term. One particular Sandra answers Paromita’s question by stating that “It’s what we make of the term ‘Good time girl'”. She could be someone who is easy going, fun and independent or she could also be someone who is ‘Chalu’.
To understand what this term means, the film starts with people explaining the history of Catholics in Bombay and how it remains a strong influence. We see a montage of streets and buildings that have Catholic names, some even are named after saints. ‘Where’s Sandra?’ further reflects upon how Catholic culture became popular. Using scenes from Bollywood films of the ’70s and ’80s it talks about how media has created a very specific image of the Catholic culture in Bombay – where people party, eat meat and drink wine. The film shows people reading excerpts from different books. One particular individual reads, “English makes you tall,” highlighting how for a lot of us English is a gateway to get better jobs, to exit our current economic conditions. And taking up English traditions comes naturally with it.
In the last sequence, we see not one, but many Sandra’s leaving the train. And Paromita’s voice sums up the film, “Maybe Sandra isn’t in Bandra anymore….” Because she is part of a lot of women in Bombay, in more than just one-way. Watch this wonderful short documentary for it is not just about ‘Sandra from Bandra’, it’s about working women in Bombay, who like to dress well, sing, dance and have a good time.
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