Oscars are around the corner and India has three reasons to celebrate and anticipate as the country has three nominations this time: S S Rajamouli’s magnum opus ‘RRR’, which is in the race for the Best Original song with ‘Naatu Naatu’; the Guneet Monga-produced Kartiki Gonsalves’ short film, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, for Best Documentary Short Film; and Shaunaq Sen’s ‘All That Breathes’ for Best Documentary Feature.
The Indian content is steadily making waves in the international arena and producer Guneet Monga feels that the streaming services have played a key role in taking Indian content to the remotest places on earth. What works particularly in the case of the aforementioned films is their rootedness and the honesty with which the stories are told.
Monga said: “Our storytelling is rooted here and it’s high time we are recognised across the globe. After all, we are the most prolific film industry in the world. ‘RRR’ is so Indian and that’s the reason it went global because it was rooted.”
“For a film or a series to work and to transcend the physical boundaries, it is important that it is rooted and honest in its approach, all the three films ‘The Elephant Whisperers’, ‘RRR’ and ‘All That Breathes’ have these ingredients,” she added.
Monga, who had previously served as an executive producer on ‘Period. End of Sentence’, which won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film, pointed out: “All these stories are rooted. And with the streaming giants discovering and exhibiting Indian content, I can very well say that Indian content is going to explode in a big way on the global scale.”
She also believes that the streaming services are an integral part of the unification of Indian cinema as more people get to watch and discover Indian regional content which automatically amps up the strength of Indian cinema in its entirety.
Monga said: “Even for us within India, discovering the magic of Fahadh Faasil or a Vijay Sethupathi is so refreshing. Consuming gorgeous cinema across the length and breadth of the country is such a great thing from the filmmakers’ point of view as suddenly your audience set gets expanded, you have more liberty to tell the story in your way and not stick to the geometry of film commerce and force fit things as per the market.”
“Streaming is helping in the unification of Indian cinema in a big way, it has blurred the lines between different kinds of cinema, be it regional, Hindi mainstream or Hindi independent cinema, now it’s just the Indian cinema. Today, Indian cinema is a force to reckon with globally and let me tell you, we have just got started.”
‘The Elephant Whisperers’, which is a Netflix production, tells the story of an indigenous couple named Bomman and Belli who are entrusted with an orphaned baby elephant named Raghu.
Director Kartiki Gonsalves touches upon the topic of the relationship dynamics between humans and animals in the world driven by industrialisation where humans often encroach on the territories of their rightful owners – the animals.
Monga concluded by noting that ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is “the story of people, who have been generationally working with elephants and they’re so aware of the needs of the jungle.”
She added: “In the film, there is a beautiful scene which speaks of taking from the Jungle but only to the extent that is needed, and the jungles have enough for everyone. But it is up to us if we take what we need or we hoard. The needs of humans are endless, it is upon us to draw the line and give the respect that animals deserve.”
–By Akshay Acharya