Talented Filmmaker Guneet Monga Kapoor On Cinema, Creative Inspiration, Life, And More

We catch up with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guneet Monga Kapoor about her journey in the world of cinema, creative inspirations, and what it means to bring the magic of Indian cinema to global screens.



Once Upon a Time…

I love telling stories! Growing up, thatʼs what I always really wanted to do—to be a part of the process that brought narratives to the big screen. Initially, I went on to study mass communication at college. Thatʼs where I understood what print media, radio, and news broadcasting were all about. But then, when I got the opportunity to work with Delhi-based production coordinator for international films, Anureeta Saigal, I grabbed it with both hands. I began as an intern, then became a production coordinator, followed by production manager, location manager, line producer, and then learned the back end of producing, which meant understanding the logistics bit of it. My aim was to know and learn as much about this sphere as possible.

From Delhi to Mumbai

Fortunately, since Delhi plays host to a lot of fi lms from around the world, I got the chance to work with several international producers. As a result, I learned how to fundraise, as well as the ability to read a script and break it down. Once I was familiar with the operational aspects of the business, I wanted to learn how to choose a script. So, at the age of 21, I moved to Mumbai with an investment of ` 50 lakh from my neighbour. I would meet people in shopping malls, tell them Iʼm a producer with this amount, and ask them to tell me a story for a film!

Captivating Tales

Thereʼs definitely a strong focus on how women are represented on screen in the material that I do pick up. I like local stories and human emotions. Thereʼs also something special about second chances and I love to explore that in my movies. Whether it was The Lunchbox, Masaan, or Pagglait, I like delving into topics that express loneliness and togetherness.

Starry Eyes

I have always been inspired by Shah Rukh Khan—he came from Delhi and made it big in Mumbai. Right from his roles in Circus and Fauji till today, his professional journey is truly aspirational. I was also enamoured of Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit. Movies like Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, and Andaz Apna Apna had a deep impact on me during my growing years— I feel they are a true celebration of Indian cinema. I also love Roberto Benigniʼs Life is Beautiful. The movie showed me the utter magic cinema can weave through impactful stories about human emotions. When I was backstage at the Academy Awards, they asked me about my favourite moment at the Oscars. I was tempted to mention my 2019 award for Best Documentary Short Film win as an executive producer for Period. End of Sentence. Instead, I spoke about my actual favourite—when Benigni won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. He said his parents gave him the best gift and that was poverty, which allowed him to dream. I was blown away!

Baby elephant Raghu and Bellie from The Elephant Whisperers.

A Passion for Learning

My company is called Sikhya Entertainment. I started it with my mother, who named it. Sikhya is a Punjabi word that means ʻto keep learning and growingʼ. At that time, I didnʼt want such a desi name; I wanted something global. But since she was unwell at the time and l lost her soon after, I chose to stick with the name. Over the years, I fell in love with it. Itʼs such a blessing and has defi ned my life and work. I now run Sikhya with my business partner, Achin Jain. We love slice-of-life, coming-of-age movies and working with fi rst- and second-time directors.

Lights, Camera, India!

We are such a vast country with so many film industries, be it Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, Malayalam, and Bengali, among others. Each one has its own flavour, culture, and dialect. We are very rich creatively. This ranges from art house and independent cinema to an entire spectrum that includes the grandiose visions of directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali and SS Rajamouli. During my Oscar journey, I witnessed the sheer love people have for RRR globally. And then, you have a movie like The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves—itʼs an intimate, independent film thatʼs an observation of coexistence in a slice-of-life narrative.

Guneet Monga Kapoor with Kartiki Gonsalves.

Whispering to the World

For a fi lm to capture the hearts and minds of people, I would say one shouldnʼt make it with the aim of winning an award. Rather, lean into your own experiences and do what youʼre good at. Thatʼs what Gonsalves did. A long-time naturalist photographer, she discovered Raghu (the baby elephant) and its caretaker couple Bomman and Bellie, and began following their story. Soon, she made a pitch trailer and sent it to me. It touched me on so many levels—it was about conservation, coexistence, and this was a first-time woman filmmaker. The movie seemed to fi t into my lifeʼs mission in every way. I was captivated! We shot it over the course of a few years. I was even there for Bomman and Bellieʼs wedding! Then Netflix came along and it became global, reaching over 150 countries. In my 15 years as a producer, Iʼve never seen the kind of outpouring of love as Iʼve seen for The Elephant Whisperers.

Whatʼs Next?

Oh, very exciting projects! Thereʼs a documentary on rapper Honey Singhʼs life, a series called Gyarah Gyarah with popular dancer Raghav Juyal, and lots more in the pipeline!


Your ultimate foodie binge.

Nirula’s Hot Chocolate Fudge. I really miss Delhi’s food when I’m in Mumbai!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning person.

One film you’d make if given total creative freedom?

Brown Panther—my own India-inspired version of the cult superhit, Black Panther!

Your favourite travel destinations.

Dharamshala and Los Angeles.

Your favourite Indian heritage weave.

Banarasi sarees.

Describe Guneet in three words.

Hilarious, adventurous, and spiritual.

Freedom to you is…

Peace of mind.

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