Bombay Times Exclusive
Elephant Whispers, a Tamil-language documentary short, directed by documentary filmmaker Kartiki Gonsalves and produced by Guneet Monga, created history at the 95th Oscars by becoming the first Indian film produced by an Indian production to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film. Social class.
The heartwarming documentary follows an elderly couple – Bowman and Bailey – who take in orphaned elephants in South India. The film shows how they co-exist with nature and share their space and home with the lost elephants, whom they raise as their own children.
Overwhelmed with joy, and now back in India, Guneet Monga talks exclusively
Bombay Times after a massive victory. Part..
We are sure you are over the moon. How did it feel to stand on stage at the Oscars and
Receive an award for Elephant Whispers?
It will take time to understand all these things. It seems like the beginning of a new chapter for Indian cinema. This is the first Oscar for an Indian production. My team and I are thrilled to represent India on a global platform. We are grateful for the love this story has received from indigenous people, elephant orphan Raghu and caretakers Boman and Bailey. The documentary touched the hearts of viewers across the globe. It is a great honor for us and I dedicate this award to our beautifully diverse country India. I am glad that I have been able to fulfill this vision of bringing women filmmakers to the forefront while winning nothing less than an Oscar.
You were overwhelmed with emotion when you got on stage to collect your Oscar. Unfortunately, your speech was cut off by the orchestra in keeping with the 45-second rule for acceptance speeches. You could barely utter a word. Was it disappointing?
I am extremely disappointed that my speech was cut short. I had a look of shock on my face. I just wanted to say that this is India’s first Oscar in an Indian production, which is a big deal. My heart started racing because I couldn’t come that far and not be heard. The western media is pulling the academy which I did not get to speak. People are so angry that I didn’t even get a chance to deliver my speech. There are videos and tweets online expressing the disappointment that I didn’t get to speak. It was India’s moment that was taken away from me. But then, I thought no matter what, I’ll come back here and make sure I’m heard. I have got many opportunities to share my thoughts and I am very happy to receive everyone’s love. So a little empathy can go a long way here.
The live performance of RRR’s song Naatu Naatu that won the Oscar for Best Original Song was electrifying. What was it like watching it as an audience?
It was wonderful to see the live performance of Natu Natu and to see the song winning an Oscar for India. I was almost dancing on my chair and I am proud that we could share this moment and global platform with SS Rajamouli sir, MM Keeravani, Chandrabose, Ram Charan and Jr NTR. I would also like to say that I am proud of Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes. The film may not have won, but Shaunak is one of the most promising filmmakers of India. The three nominations make 2023 a stellar year for India at the Oscars.
any star-struck moment or speech that
inspired you the most?
I’m surprised by Michelle Yeoh’s speech (who won
Best Actress Award), especially when she said, “Ladies, don’t let anyone tell you that you’re past your prime.” I think she spoke for every woman in the world.