The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga, has created history by winning the Best Documentary Short Subject at the 95th Academy Awards. On the occasion, Humans Of Bombay has shared a post in which Guneet Monga has recounted her journey of coming from a middle-class Punjabi family to being a producer. In the Instagram post, Guneet Monga opened up about her dreams and early struggles. She said, “I’ve lived a life of borrowed dreams. I grew up in Delhi, in a Punjabi middle-class family. To the world, we were happy–but no one knew what happened behind closed doors. My family was allotted 1 room in a big house. Because of the fight between brothers over property- my mom was suppressed. They abused her… Once, the argument got to a point where they tried to burn her alive-my father called the police, grabbed us, and ran out of there.”
After this, Guneet Monga’s family began to build their life anew, she explained. “Eventually, my mom started dreaming of having a 3-bedroom house on a ground floor with 3 steps by the entrance – So specific! I became determined to buy one for her. At 16, I started working while balancing schoolwork–I sold cheese on streets, was an announcer at PVR, a DJ, an anchor…you name it. In college, I began coming to Mumbai to work in films. I went from a coordinator, to being a production manager. Whatever I’d earn, I’d give it to my parents for our dream. Slowly we pooled our savings and booked a house.”
However, by the time the house was ready, Guneet Monga lost her parents within six months of each other. The personal tragedy pushed her to move to Mumbai and channel her “energy into films”. She added, “My dreams then became my director’s dreams. I was always on my feet and barely slept four hours a day. Each film was a challenge. Crowd-funding, international sales- but I loved it! I wanted to hear my mom’s ‘you did well’ or my dad’s ‘proud of you’…”
“So, in my happiest times- whether it was at the Oscars or when we produced Gangs of Wasseypur and The Lunchbox or when I launched my production house… all I wanted was my parents beside me. But I know they’re at peace where they are. Someday I’ll see them again and get my ‘well dones.’ But for now, I’m going through life, collecting happy moments for them. I hope they can be proud that I’ve finally stopped borrowing dreams. I’m my own person now and maybe that in itself is a dream come true!” she said.
Read the complete note here:
On Monday, Guneet Monga also shared an image of her winning moment on stage and said, “Tonight is historic as this is the first-ever Oscar for an Indian production. India’s Glory with two women. Thank you Mom Dad Guruji Shukrana. To my co-producer Achin Jain, Team Sikhya, Netlflix, Aloke, Sarafina, WME Bash Sanjana. My lovely Husband Sunny. Happy 3 months anniversary, baby! Kartiki for bringing and weaving this story. To all the women watching…The future is audacious and the future is here. Let’s go! Jai hind.”
The plot of The Elephant Whisperers follows a family who adopts two orphaned baby elephants in Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve. Previously, Guneet Monga served as an executive producer on Period. End of Sentence. which won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film.
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