It’s not just about having more women in key roles, but about changing perspectives: Guneet Monga

The whole world is watching, Indian cinema today, 190 countries, 200 to 300 million viewers, it is undeniably the biggest stage in the world  

The grandeur and influence of cinema, has never ceased to amaze me, a powerful medium, right from its early days, Indian cinema, has for decades influenced society. While the romances, thrillers, comedies, and horrors continue to entertain us and are far removed from reality it also largely delves into the social and political phases of our times.  There was also the era when the most important female role was that of “Maa” – “Mere paas maa hai”.

In this exclusive interview Oscar-winning film producer and CEO Sikhya Entertainment, Guneet Monga Kapoor, speaks to Queenie Nair, editor sustainability,  about winning the Oscar, the process of filmmaking, evolution of Indian cinema on the international platform, the role of women in films, and diversity.

Does cinema have a responsibility towards society  

I think it’s a big question. You know there’s there are so many kinds of filmmaking like there are so many kinds of journalism. There are some films that are created only for entertainment which are just laugh out loud comedies, then there are films that delve deeper into the human experience, that are a window into someone’s life or exploring societal issues. These films can be thought-provoking, emotional, or even confrontational, as they aim to shed light on different perspectives, challenge societal norms, or initiate conversations about important topics.

Cinema forms a large part of pop culture, and a large part of conversations, generations get defined as they look back on cinema. A lot of film makers actually tell stories that are a product of our society. I do feel that as filmmakers, we have a responsibility towards the stories we tell, towards representation, towards the conversations we are trying to have.


I do feel like films that are very men end should definitely look at how they represent their women even if it’s a one scene, one role, the lens is important to have that kind of a conscience.

…Guneet Monga

Having said that, I do find the couple of hours that people give me to hear our stories, very sacred, I want it to be worth their time and I want to say something that contributes to a greater understanding of the world we live in. Whether we are making a blockbuster or an independent film, we have the power to shape conversations and inspire meaningful change. I believe that as filmmakers we have a responsibility to represent diverse perspectives and experiences, and to use this platform to challenge stereotypes, promote empathy, and encourage dialogue, and ultimately, that is a responsibility is what I have always felt in my journey as a filmmaker

Representation of women in the business of cinema  

I think definitely the conversation of equality is there, then  there’s definitely commerce and there’s definitely a budget threshold on female filmmakers, or female led films, but there are also those have broken through the glass ceiling, those have broken through the Gangubais. You know like every decade, every year actually there are a couple of them breaking that glass ceiling and building newer grounds and its worth the progress, it’s definitely been a men led industry for so long, so that’s not something that will happen overnight but I do feel like films that are very men end should definitely look at how they represent their women even if it’s a one scene, one role, the lens is important to have that kind of a conscience.

The catalyst that makes you take on diverse protagonists in your movies

I enjoy it and if I can then why not so as simple as it gets I am extremely curious as a person, I am fascinated, I am curious, and I like that lens of curiosity, I have so many questions, it’s a running joke in my organization that I watch a film like an audience, even though I have produced it even though I have read the script a hundred times and I was on set but I still cry in our rough cuts still laughing the loudest and my team is like you have to give feedback but I love it.  

Internationalization of Indian cinema 

I think curiosity for Indian cinema has been there forever, that’s because we are such a huge industry we are in so many languages, I do think with “Natu Natu and Elephant Whisperers” all that which speaks of diversity was represented this year and there has been definitely a conversation on diversity in India because here is a big picture Telegu film and then an intimate small Tamil documentary and all that reads with Hindi film, even nomination is such a  big deal you know so winning is just out of our dreams so definitely I think there is a lot of curiosity.

However, the Indian film industry operates on a predominantly equity-based model we are a 100% equity industry I don’t think we give so much time for the film to travel you know there is a certain pressure that comes with equity there is a certain responsibility that comes with an 100% equity industry which often leads to a quick turnaround time for marketing and release and that only leads to feeding it to the Indian diaspora market as quickly as that can happen and to monetize it back.

This does limit the opportunities for films to have extensive festival runs, international distribution, and deeper engagement with global audiences. I mean even Lunch Box or Masaan was able to travel was because it was a Indo French German co-production. These collaborations reduce the pressure of solely relying on domestic equity and provides opportunities for films to have a wider international release and festival presence. What industries usually around the world do is a two step conversation, it not only about just the international view into the Indian cinema, but it is also about how we are structured and how much time do we give films to do festivals, to have that conversation, to have a larger footprint or even have different ways of distribution.

But yes, with digital marketing and OTT platforms like Netflix coming in the borders are gradually opening up, allowing films to reach a wider international audience.

Breakout successes like “Natu Natu” and “The Elephant Whisperer”  have garnered global attention and reached viewers in numerous countries, showcasing the potential of Indian cinema on a global scale – the whole world is watching, Indian cinema today, 190 countries, 200 to 300 mn viewers it is undeniably the biggest stage in the world.

What does being powerful mean to you?

I think you can finally just cut the chase and do what you always wanted to do. So, power means to just having to do what you always wanted to do.

Authored by: Queenie Nair

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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