Taking On Ethnic Stereotype

A Short Film About a Sandwich Is the Best Thing You’ll Watch This Week


Culture By Photo by Leena Pendharkar

Life is not a series of big decisions. In fact, the majority of our existence is made up of the small moments in between. Dandekar Makes a Sandwich captures this in a slice-of-life story about a man’s quest for some slices of meat and cheese. Written and directed by Leena Pendharkar, the short was produced with funding from an Indiegogo campaign back in 2014 and functions as a prequel to a larger feature, Days With Dandekar, that has yet to be released.

Pendharker is known for her feature film Raspberry Magic as well as her work on platforms like Funny or Die, Failblog and Comediva. It is no surprise that she holds a master’s in journalism with a focus on documentary filmmaking from UC-Berkeley, given her quiet focus on crafting a realistic depiction of the South Asian American in her projects, including this short film.

Over the past several years, American culture has become more cognizant of its slanted depictions of South Asians in media that often lean on trite and oversimplified character tropes. In fact you may even recognize Dandekar (Brian George) from his past roles in Seinfeld and the Big Bang Theory, both of which were pegged for their use of cultural caricature. Though great strides are being made with the work of Mindy Kaling and particularly Aziz Ansari’s Master of None series, when it comes to dismantling any stereotype, the more is always the merrier. In Dandekar Makes a Sandwich, Pendharkar’s depiction of Dandekar may seem underdeveloped, really he is more developed in terms of his distance from lazy media portrayal. Pendharkar chooses to normalize Dandekar, placing him entirely entirely in the quiet, liminal moments that we most often exist in, rather than blunt ethnic-centric ones.