One of the fiercest and most prolific producers that Bollywood’s new wave of films has seen, Guneet Monga is just 29 years old.
From a career that took off with Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, in the last five years, she has gone on to produce films like That Girl in Yellow Boots (2011), Shaitan (2011), Peddlers (2012), Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2 (2012), Shahid (2013) and many more.
If she had never gotten into the world of producing films, she’d have been a hotelier or a DJ or even an actor, she thinks. “But I can’t imagine doing anything else, now that I am here,” she quips.
On being the “production geek: “I think all these terms are only used when I’m not around. I get up each day and have a list of things I need to do, if I have done it, it's been a good day, else it isn’t. At the end of the day, like my parents used to say, what matters is the work you’ve done and if you’ve managed to impact someone’s life positively,” says Guneet.
On being a workaholic: Her day begins with phone calls and ends with phone calls. “My day is filled with meetings, mostly outside the office, but I make it a point to be in the office for at least four hours a day. That’s when my team and I catch up. Anyone who has been around me knows my phone and me are inseparable,” she says.
On her relationship with Anurag Kashyap: Since That Girl In the Yellow Boots, Guneet has produced most of Anurag Kashyap’s movies. “He is my mentor and is a father figure in my life. I think I owe him a great deal in becoming the person that I am today. At the end of the day what matters is the fact that I know I can pick up the phone and call him and he will be there,” she laughs.
On the ‘indie” films: According to Guneet, the concept of independent films in India, exists purely in spirit. “Today with distribution being a huge aspect to getting the films out there, most of the so-called indie filmmakers have had to go back to a studio. Studios such as UTV and Viacom18 have always been supporters of good content, so the journey has been exciting and good. The exciting part of
making films backed by good content is always a factor that you can wake up to in the morning and head to work, knowing it’s all for the right reasons,” she says.
She also thinks the audience for good cinema has grown. “Today, a Ship of Theseus, Dhobhi Ghat, Paan Singh Tomar, The Lunchbox, Shahid... have all been accepted by audiences. I have always believed that cinema is an art and the commerce of it will happen, if the art and content of it is right. Audiences have and will continue to support good cinema,” she explains.
On her production house: Guneet is CEO of Sikhya Entertainment, a production house she founded in 2008 and that has seen huge successes in the last few years. “We are committed to producing good content. We have always been language and geography agnostic. As a company, we never set out to achieve anything, having said that, we always want to push boundaries. Every time someone said it can’t be done, we went ahead and did it. I think as a company, all of us like pushing the envelope,” she emphasises.
There seems to be no slowing down for her. Not with her films releasing one after the other. Her films “The timing is coincidental. I have five films that are being prepped for release, we just get such great concepts and films, that saying no to them almost feels stupid. So we decide to be proud of them and make them and release them. It has taken us these many years to become a production outfit that is being associated with good and quality content, be it The Lunchbox, Shahid, Shaitan or Gangs of Wasseypur, or the soon to be released Peddlers, Vakratunda Mahakaaya and Monsoon Shootout.
These are good times, also because audiences are now looking forward to watching these films. The line between art films and commercial films has blurred, it’s good films and bad films now,” she says.