Guneet Monga: With filmmaking, you sign up for struggles
As a woman producer with a knack of non-Bollywood stories, Guneet Monga -- one of the only two Indians named in Variety's International Women of Impact Report
As a woman producer with a knack of "non-Bollywood" stories, Guneet Monga -- one of the only two Indians named in Variety's International Women of Impact Report -- says filmmaking is a journey that comes with its share of struggles and challenges. So, Monga, who is credited with films like "Gangs of Wasseypur", "The Lunchbox", "Masaan", "Haraamkhor", "Titli" and "Monsoon Shootout", finds it "extremely humbling" to be a part of a list with amazing women like Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone, apart from Daisy Ridley, J.K. Rowling, Sofia Vergara, Emma Watson, Lupita Nyong'o, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Salma Hayek, Gal Gadot, Judi Dench and Adele.
"To be recognised for our work is the most rewarding feeling. It takes so long to make movies and it's only times like these that one feels that we are collectively making an impact. It is inspiring to continue believing and doing what we love to do... Tell stories," Monga told IANS in an email interview from Los Angeles. It has been a long journey for Monga, who started out as a production intern in Delhi, and then worked in different roles as a location manager, line producer and an assistant producer. She shifted base to Mumbai to take up her passion more seriously. She worked closely with Anurag Kashyap for five years before embarking with her own company Sikhya Entertainment in 2014.
"As I said, filmmaking is a really long process. It can take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to 10 years to make a film. You sign up for struggles. There are new challenges everyday and new victories everyday. To continue to be inspired in telling our story is a big gift. "I have had challenges of not being taken seriously and also financial challenges of being able to develop and fund non-Bollywood stories. I do hope our current government sets up more support system for stories that can travel and be done independently," said Monga, whose 2009 short "Kavi" was nominated for the 2010 Oscars in the Best Live Action Short Film category, and whose works have been widely visible in the international film festival circuits.
At a time when there's a call for creating gender inclusive environments in the entertainment industry globally, Monga is in complete support of encouraging more women to take up roles not just in front of the camera, but behind the scenes too. "More than 50 per cent of the media users are women. However, the media or communication that reaches them is mostly made by men. It's time to be able to do more. To hire more women and to pay them equal wages.
"There are a lot of incredibly talented women working in Indian cinema in every field. I hope they can now be paid equally and for all of us to be more aware about it and support each other to grow," said the producer, who has also backed Ben Rekhi's "The Ashram", starring Kal Penn, Mellisa Leo and Radhika Apte.
What's next? "More stories! I am exploding to be able to make movies in Tamil and working on co-productions between US and India, developing a slate of women stories, and it keeps me inspired everyday to see it through."
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