Saund vs Cochran

: Documentary
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Development


SAUND vs COCHRAN is a feature documentary about a time in our recent past when two candidates who couldn’t have been more different from each other– a wealthy aviatrix and a local farmer of Indian descent– ran for Congress. This highly entertaining drama engaged an unprecedented 80% voter turnout, and Dalip Singh Saund defeated Jackie Cochran Odlum to become the first-ever Asian member of the U.S. Congress.




Saund vs. Cochran is a documentary about a political campaign in 1956 that rocked the nation. In this dramatic underdog story, Dalip Singh Saund, a judge and naturalized U.S. citizen of Indian descent, won an upset victory against Jackie Cochran Odlum, a celebrated WWII pilot and owner of a cosmetics empire. As they ran for Congress in California’s 29th District, local and national voters engaged in debates about political representation and inclusion with regards to his race and her gender. While Cochran had unlimited resources and Presidential support, Saund’s grassroots, family-led voter registration drive targeted a changing demographic and led to a narrow and unexpected 3,300-vote victory, making him the first-ever Asian, Indian, and Sikh American member of the U.S. Congress. 


The film is about the first Asian American elected to serve in the U.S. Congress and about a female aviation pioneer who broke barriers in the air and in the political arena. A nonpartisan perspective on this surprisingly undertold story will highlight the process by which democracy works and evolves, the power of coalition politics and voter registration, and the intersection of varied considerations of ethnicity, gender, wealth and belonging as we consider how to vote in 2024.


Mridu Chandra - Director / Producer

Mridu Chandra is a BAFTA and EMMY nominated filmmaker based in New York City. Born in New Delhi and raised in Virginia, she has over 20 years of experience as a creative producer of impactful documentaries and fiction films that cover topics of civil rights, environmental and racial justice, and gender equality. Seven of her films have premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and SXSW; aired nationally on PBS, globally on Disney+, and on Netflix India. Most recently, she produced Becoming Cousteau (Disney+) for two-time Oscar nominee Liz Garbus and co-produced Cured (PBS, Independent Lens). These two films garnered her an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary Research and a BAFTA nomination for Best documentary. Her expertise as an archival media researcher and clearance specialist has additionally served numerous other documentaries (Whose Streets?), fiction films (Steve Jobs directed by Danny Boyle for NBCUniversal) and Broadway productions (Betrayal directed by Mike Nichols). From 2016 to 2019, she was the founding director of a film fund and distribution initiative to support the professional development and increased visibility of underrepresented filmmakers at Tribeca Film Institute.






Connect With The Filmmakers:


The Gotham Film & Media Institute - Fiscal Sponsorship Program 2023
ITVS HDDF Fellowship 2022
California Humanities R&D Grant


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