The video diary that is Searching 4 Sandeep is an essay on several levels. It’s a story of coming out, long distance romance, internet dating and diminishing social options for same-sex singles.
It’s also one of the few occasions lesbians get a bit of prime time coverage, on anything other than SBS.
Poppy Stockell lives in Sydney, but at the age of 28 finds herself single and with few options of meeting prospective beaus (in the heart of a ‘gay capital’, that’s a story in itself, surely?). So she turns to the internet, where she meets 31-year-old Anglo-Indian Sandeep Virdi. The two hit it off immediately, but Poppy is thrown a curve ball when she learns Sandeep lives in the UK. And it gets worse. Not only is Sandeep not out, she lives with her conservative Sikh parents and three younger sisters.
Poppy and Sandeep exchange phone numbers and rack up the phone bills, but longing soon takes its toll. They take the plunge to meet, embarking on a holiday in Thailand where their first physical meeting is in the airport terminal. They are nervous, excited, amorous, and relieved to find each other even more attractive than their online profiles (amazing).
After falling helplessly for one another on their holiday, and being catapulted back to their daily routines, the two girls cannot bear to be apart. Poppy bids her Sydney life goodbye to pursue a relationship with Sandeep, jumping feet first into the turmoil it is sure to deliver.
Key moments are captured on video cams, sometimes manned by the subjects themselves, or by an exterior filmmaker. It’s hard not to ask yourself how anyone in their right mind would ever agree to a documentary about meeting an internet stranger. It could be a recipe for disaster. Yet with Searching 4 Sandeep it affords a frank and intimate window into one cross-hemisphere couple, and by default, a diversity of lifestyles.
Stockell’s narration is at times overdone, but it is easy to forgive, given she and her new partner are laying their hearts on the line – in more ways than one.
Searching 4 Sandeep screens 9:25pm Thursday, Nov 13 on ABC1.