Every Indian witnessed a historic moment when The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga, won Best Documentary Short Film at the 95th Academy Awards. The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian production ever to win an Oscar.
But, this win is extra-special for Guneet Monga as she became the second Indian ever (after AR Rahman), who has won two Oscars. In 2019, Guneet Monga’s documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence’ won the Oscar in the Documentary Short Subject.
But the journey till the Oscars has been anything but easy. While opening up about her struggles in an interview with HoB, Guneet shared how she fought against her adversity to turn her dream into reality. From losing her parents at a young age to selling cheese on the streets to giving everything to her work, Guneet Monga will inspire you to fight for your dreams.
Guneet Monga Inspiring Story: From Selling Cheese On Streets To The Oscars
While talking about her childhood struggle Guneet 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 & ran out of there.”
Further adding how Guneet started working early to build a roof over her parents’ heads, she said, “We built our life anew. Eventually, my mom started dreaming of having a 3 bedroom house on the ground floor with 3 steps by the entrance- So specific! I became determined to buy 1 for her. At 16 I started working while balancing schoolwork–I sold cheese on the 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 a production manager. Whatever I’d earn, I’d give to my parents for our dream!”
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Finally, after working hard, the family managed to book a house. But by the time, the house was ready, Guneet lost both her parents. Sharing the details of her life taking an ugly turn, she shared,”Slowly we pooled our savings & booked a house. But by the time it was ready, I lost my parents within 6 months of each other. My mom had throat cancer & my dad’s kidneys failed… I was heartbroken.”
From Delhi to Mumbai to Oscars: Guneet Monga Inspiring Story
“Needing a change, I packed my bags, sold the house & moved to Bombay for work. I channeled my energy into films. My dreams then became my director’s dreams. I was always on my feet & barely slept 4 hrs 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’. I still remember my father had sold his gold kadaa to send me on my 1st school trip to USA- he wanted me to see the world, no matter how challenging it was for them.”, she said.
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And, finally, her quest to make her parents proud
Recalling her parents, she said, “So in my happiest times- whether it was at the Oscars or when we produced Gangs of Wasseypur & 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 & get my ‘well done.’ 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 & maybe that in itself is a dream come true! “
Guneet’s remarkable achievements have filled the entire country with pride, and we have no doubt that her parents, would have felt the same sense of pride. Guneet’s ability to overcome adversity and build the life of her dreams is truly inspiring, and we are so proud of her accomplishments. Way to go, Guneet!