Guneet Monga on being valued at festivals and boxed in Bollywood: I feel like living double life


Guneet Monga on being valued at festivals and boxed in Bollywood: I feel like living double life

Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga on Sunday said she is baffled at how her work is celebrated at international film festivals but back home she is caged by the industry labels of strictly being an “art-house” filmmaker.

In a career spanning over 10 years, Monga has backed critically acclaimed films like the “Gangs of Wasseypur” series, “Shahid”, “Masaan”, “The Lunchbox” and “Haraamkhor” among others.

Her 2018 production “Period. End of Sentence” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

The producer said, in India, slotting a filmmaker takes precedence over valuing their body of work.

“I have lived with these labels, I’ve been put into those boxes. You kill yourself to put a ‘Shahid’, ‘Masaan’, ‘Lunchbox’ or a ‘Haraamkhor’ out there and then you’re just boxed in this.

“I feel like living a double life. I’m so valued as a creator in festivals, where your movies are premiered and here, it’s, ‘oh she’s an art-house filmmaker’,” Monga said.

The producer was speaking at a panel discussion at the ongoing India Film Project.

She was joined by Aparna Purohit, Head of India Originals, Amazon Prime Video and Srishti Behl Arya, Director for International Original Film – India, Netflix.

Monga said she has to “literally go to people” and inform them that the films she has backed have actually clocked profits.

“I tell them how my films give a high return of investment. The budgets they’re made in, the budgets we have been able to sell them in, give huge return of investment. They’re all profit making,” she added.

Purohit said it’s unfair to categorise films on streaming platforms as “art-house, parallel, or big and small.”

“Let’s tell good stories, let’s take it to the audience. When they want to watch a romantic film, it should be there, when they feel like watching a thriller, it should be available. Let’s just continue making good films,” Purohit added.


Cinema halls were shut across India for more than half a year due to the coronavirus pandemic until resuming activity in some states from October 15, many filmmakers took to the streaming platforms to screen their films, which were originally planned for a theatrical release.

Monga, however, said she doesn’t believe there’s anything called “OTT movies” as every project follows a similar journey.

“You still have to back a story you love, and want to be able to make it every morning of your life… As a filmmaker you want to approach the best actor, musician, shoot it in a way you want to. How does the term OTT impact anything?

“More power to all producers who have worked so hard in the pandemic to finish and deliver movies. None of us imagined theatres would shut down and there will be these avenues. I don’t know if this will happen next year or the year after, but as a filmmaker I know you still have to show up and tell your best story,” she added. 

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Sagar Biswas

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