The Enigmatic Storyteller- Guneet Monga

 Guneet Monga’s journey to success is nothing short of phenomenal. She is one of the youngest producers in India and a trailblazer who believes in the power of story telling. Her movies have won accolades around the world. The Hollywood Reporter named her as the “most prolific producers of a new wave of cinema”.

‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going.’ I hadn’t understood the true meaning of this adage until I talked to thirty-five year old Guneet Monga, an Oscar winner, a BAFTA nominee whose boutique production house Sikhya Entertainment has produced notable movies like The Lunchbox, Gangs of Wasseypur, Masaan. Her 2018 production Period. End of Sentence won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. However, the road to these achievements hasn’t been easy for this former Delhite who has worked as a DJ, insurance agent, an event planner, a salesperson for Laughing Cow Cheese in her quest to seek her true calling.

Some excerpts from the conversation:

You’ve been into so many jobs. What made you turn a producer?

I am a story teller by heart. Even if I have to explain a small incident, I will take 15 minutes to talk about it. Producing is a very powerful form of story telling. I also get to empower so many directors to produce great content. I am a multi-tasker who is wired for delegation and organization, so becoming a producer was a natural progression of sorts since I started as a production intern and then moved on to become a location manager and so on.

Adversity seems to have been a part of your life. In your childhood, you’ve seen domestic violence. You struggled to return the 50 lakhs to your neighbour after your first film tanked. How do you find the strength to move on?

From the very beginning, I have been a go-getter. I don’t think much, I just dive into the work and do what needs to be done. Choice is a privilege and when you don’t have a choice you just need to move on. When my first movie tanked, I went from school to school, location to location to showcase the movie which helped me to pay it back.

Life has this way of resetting our value systems by constantly giving us something different from what we expect, believe or want? Has it ever happened with you?

All the time! I lost my parents about 10 years ago. And I am an only child. You always look back at your parents for your core value system and to understand where you come from, what you were taught to believe in. Today, though I have achieved a lot but I miss that kind of appreciation from the core. So, everything that happens is good but not great because that sense of validation which comes from your parents is not there. So, I have learnt to become my own parent. I have set my value system with my own checks and balances to check my self and understand where I could be better. Whenever something good happens, I tell myself this is just the start, there is so much to do, so much to learn. But that is a lot of internal work.

What does success mean to you?

I am actually a big believer in power of failure because that teaches you the most. When you achieve success in anything, you don’t think things could go wrong. To me, the movies that have not worked, the movies that have not been released, are the reasons why I am able to be a part of a movie that is successful around the world and wins awards because I learnt so much from the movies that didn’t make it. To me success is this wisdom, and to be inspired and to be continually allowed to be tell my stories. For this I have learnt to be grateful and content.

What is the biggest strength of a woman according to you?

Women are generally very perceptive, empathetic and have a great sense of intuition and responsibility which allows them to be in a better position than men. Besides, there are women like me who lost so much in life that they have nothing to lose and are grateful for opportunities that they get. So that fearlessness is also a very powerful tool as a woman.

Have you been to Jaipur?

Yes, I was their for the Jaipur Literature Festival this year. I love Jaipur and its people. The place has amazing energy. I am a silver jewelry collector so Jaipur is a great shopping destination for me!

Shailaza Singh

Published Author, Poet and Youtuber

This article was published in Rashtradoot Newspaper’s Arbit section on October 11, 2019


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