Guneet Monga optimistic about the big win

Her earlier film, ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ on which she worked as an executive producer, also bagged an Oscar for Best Documentary short in the pre-pandemic era…writes Akshay Acharya

Having been to the Oscars twice, you’re bound to know how things work in the Western entertainment industry. Film producer Guneet Monga, whose production ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ bagged the Oscar for Best Documentary Short at the 95th Academy Awards, feels that a sturdy distribution network is the sledgehammer that helps one crack through the unsurmountable walls of the Oscars.

Guneet said that she is optimistic about the big win changing the dynamics of storytelling in India for the good.

She said: “It’s definitely a new dawn for Indian cinema. I hope the Oscar wins, both of ‘Naatu Naatu’ and ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, encourage many filmmakers, many women and storytellers to come up with more disruptive ideas so that the world recognises the power of Indian cinema at large.”

The producer credits the streaming giant Netflix as it helped her 45-minute short film reach out to the entire world and left each set of eyeballs mesmerised by the sheer beauty of the film’s director Kartiki Gonsalves’ lens.

She told: “Netflix has been in India for quite some time and it’s so rewarding for the filmmakers and producers to take their stories to the global level because on streaming platforms the content is simultaneously available to the entire world, it’s akin to putting a billboard on the moon.”

Affirming her stance, she mentioned: “I have always maintained that you can only win an Oscar if you have a solid distribution network in the US. And that was my conviction even 10 years back, during the release of ‘The Lunchbox’ because only if you have a good distribution in the US, you can participate and compete with the global titles.”

Her earlier film, ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ on which she worked as an executive producer, also bagged an Oscar for Best Documentary short in the pre-pandemic era.

She is perhaps the only producer in the history of Indian cinema to have two Oscars, that too in both the pre-pandemic and the post-pandemic eras, a timeline which has left many film professionals across the world scratching their heads with the changing taste of the audience.

Sharing her learnings from both the instances, Guneet, who heads Sikhya Entertainment, said: “Sikhya means to keep learning and keep doing, the learning is to explore your passion and to put all your energy into what you believe in. I always feel very spiritual when it comes to ‘The Elephant Whispers’ with Kartiki, a first time filmmaker reaching out to us then us working on the project together. I mean how often does a first time filmmaker go on to clinch an Oscar?”

She continued: “A pure intention goes a long way. I joined ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ to support a young girl trying to tell an important story, again it was a first time filmmaker – Rayka Zehtabchi. For me, in both cases, it was like they wanted to tell a story and having seen their potential and that of the story, I said, ‘Okay, let’s do it!”

Lauding the director for her terrific sense of photography and for sketching a compelling story, Guneet said: “When I met Kartiki, I was absolutely blown away by her vision. She didn’t have a filmmaking background but she came with enormous experience in photography and that’s what makes ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ so refreshing to watch.

“I was getting married around the time when the film was releasing and I was on my honeymoon when the Oscars shortlist came out. It was Kartiki who was pushing forward with all her strength and talking to people as she was in the US back then,” she said.

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