Byron Shire resident, comedian and actress Sandy Ghandi.
Byron Shire resident, comedian and actress Sandy Ghandi.

Online tributes for local comedian

NORTHERN Rivers residents have reacted with shock to posts on social media alerting of the passing of local actress and comedian Sandra Aranha, also known as Sandy Ghandi.

Sandy Gandhi (born Sandra Aranha) is an Australian comedian and columnist based in Byron Bay.

Gandhi proclaimed herself to be "Australia's Most Easterly Indian".

According to her Wikipedia page, Sandy Aranha was born in New Delhi, India.

The page also states that she spent most of her time there in Bangalore before relocating with her family to Melbourne, Australia, at the age of 12.

At 21 she went to London, and her work there as a tour operator took her travelling all over the world.

When not doing her stand up comedy or writing her column, Gandhi is a carer, working with people with dementia and people with acute schizophrenia.

Gandhi used to write a humorous column titled Enlighten Up for The Northern Star's entertainment magazine, Pulse.

Her first book, also called Enlighten Up, contains a compilation of her columns and was released in 2008.

In 2009, Sandy Ghandi appeared on Channel Seven Network's Australia's Got Talent.

She was selected to go through to the semi finals.

Sandy Ghandi celebrated her 59th birthday last Saturday, when the film Spice Sisters, which she was a main actress on, screened at the Mullumbimby leg of Flickerfest 2017.

Byron Shire film maker and artist Duncan James said he was alerted of Ms Ghandi's passing by common friends.

"I saw her last for celebration birthday drinks just before the screening of the Spice Sisters," he said.

"She had so much to look forward to, especially with her role in the Spice Sisters which was only just screened locally on her birthday.

"She was an amazing person both on stage and in the community where she devoted and volunteered much of her time..She will be sorely missed by many," he added.

Mr James posted a video on YouTube as a tribute to his friendship to Ms Ghandi.

Fellow comedian Mandy Nolan said she met Sandra Aranha around 20 years ago.

"She used to help me with the kids, we'd have cups of tea, smoke cigarettes and laugh at people behind their backs! Sometimes even their fronts...that's something she would say," Nolan said.

"She used to do the door for me at gigs but it became evident she was meant to be on stage. Especially when she was funnier than a lot of the people I was hiring at the time!

"During this period she found her alter-ego, Sandy Gandhi, and that fierce wit was unleashed.

"Kind, loyal, honest and very brave.

Nolan said performing terrified Ms Aranha.

"She'd shake like a leaf," she rememberd

"She'd be sick with nerves for weeks ahead but she'd still do it. She had that kind of courage. She was hard to deter when she was on a mission.

"She was the kind of person you wanted on your team," she added.

Mandy Nolan said her friend was very proud of her role in Spice Sister.

"It was a great omen for her," she said.

"We spoke about it the other day on the phone and she felt it was a great way to bring in her last year before 60.

"On 17th February she was going to down to Canberra to perform in the Multicultural Stand up Comedy, called Show Us Your Roots, at the Canberra Theatre.

"Seems a bit unfair that Sandra Ahrana will never live to the age of her comedic creation Sandy Gandhi.

"There was decades of jokes left in the old girl. It's hard to believe she's gone.

"She is Indian. There is always reincarnation. I know what she'd say in her sharp character accent...'I'll be back'.

"Thanks Sandy. You'll be missed. Truly interesting and gloriously unique people like her don't come along often enough."

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