The producer of a film is many times the driving force behind the scenes but many of their names are not well known. We would like to introduce you to one of India’s up and coming producers: Guneet Monga. In addition to working in the Indian film industry, she has also been very active in working with international documentaries and television. She produced Say Salaam India in 2007 and has two big projects ready for release. This Friday will see the release of her mainstream flick Dasvidaniya that stars Vinay Pathak, Ranvir Shorey and Neha Dhupia. She also is the executive producer of Rang Rasiya starring Randeep Hooda and Nandana Sen. The film is already making waves at international festivals and is set for release in 2009. Stacey spoke with this vibrant producer to find out more about her upcoming releases and other work she has in the pipeline.
Tell us a bit about the story of Dasvidaniya.
Dasvidaniya is a bittersweet story about a man who refused to die before he had learnt to live.
Some times a TO-DO LIST that we make every morning not enough to call a ‘LIFE’.
Amar Kaul’s (Vinay Pathak) ‘LIFE’ is caught in a whirlwind when, during a routine visit at the doctor’s clinic, he discovers he has stomach-cancer and is at the last stage with just 3 months to live.
Thereon begins a journey of a lifetime for Amar Kaul, where he sets out to accomplish everything on his List of 10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE HE DIES. A List, which would make his life worthy before it actually ends.
Ironically in Amar Kaul’s case, it’s the realization of Death that helps him finally Live life the way it was actually meant to be.
We’ve celebrated life, love and happiness in many a film. But it’s high time we celebrate the most tying common factor in our diverse lives. The Ultimate inevitable connect. ” DEATH “. Its time to celebrate Death with Amar Kaul.
What made you choose Neha Dhupia and the Vinay/Ranvir combo for Dasvidaniya
Neha signifies first love of Amar Kaul. She is a good actress and lights up the screen. She is also Vinay’s dear friend and this being a maiden production for Vinay Pathak’s Lemontea Productions, all his friends had to be a part of the film.
Ranvir is a brilliant actor and completely fits the part.
How has working with Vinay Pathak been? What made you sign him?
Vinay has produced Dasvidaniyaunder his company Lemontea Productions with Azam Khan from One More Thought. I have co produced the film with them under the banner of Sikhya Entertainment.
Amar is an ordinary man who works in a pharmaceutical company. Our first choice was Vinay Pathak as this is a very real character. Vinay as an actor is someone everyone can relate too.
It has been truly wonderful and so much fun working with Vinay. His presence on the sets is an amazing energy.
How do you expect audiences to react to the film?
The audience will love it as the film is very moving and really touches the heart. It is a feel good factor film. It’s very refreshing as it is all about living life to its fullest.
Did you ever question choosing a title that not many people would understand? What was the motive behind it?
Yes, I questioned this all the time but my director Shashant Shah wanted this. Earlier the film was called “Ke Dil Abhi Bhara Nahi” as the writer Arshad Sayed had named it. We were unable to get this title as it was already registered. Then the entire name hunt started. The Russian girl in the film who loves Amar says Dasvidaniya, which means GOODBYE. The word is a very important element in the film which is why we also chose the tag line ‘the best GOODBYE ever.’
We had a lot of discussions about it and I was convinced in the end that a different name may work well towards the excitement for the film.
Then off course Raj Kapoor used the word Dasvidaniya, in a very popular film called Mera Naam Joker. So in India everyone knows about the film and relates to the word.
As a producer, how do you feel about the fact that many smaller-budget films have done well this year and hyped big-budget productions haven’t?
I feel very good that talent is truly being recognized and small budget films are doing well. A film’s success is all about the ratio of the budget and projected collections. In independent films the passion and sprit of the story is very high. When the script is king the entire unit delivers more for less.
What encourages you to make cinema that isn’t conventional?
Dasvidaniya is completely commercial cinema. What is conventional? I only believe in cinema where one buys a ticket and gets complete value for one’s money and time. All stories have been told before, only the style of narration is contemporary and unconventional.
You are also the executive producer of Rang Rasiya . What attracted you to the story of Raja Ravi Varma?
Deepa Sahi and Aanand Mahendroo have produced Rang Rasiya and I was the Executive Producer from Infinity, which is Aanand Mahendroo’s company. I was narrated the story by Mr. Mahendroo. I was totally impressed with the script and Raja Ravi Varma’s life. It is sad that not many people in India know about him and I am hoping the film will tell the people about how Raja Ravi Verma was an artist who was true to his work above all. He was a visionary and a revolutionary.
What are the strengths of Randeep Hooda and
Nandana Sen for their respective roles?
Randeep is a very hardworking actor. He is very committed and sincere. He is very professional and it is nice to see such dedication.
Nandana is gorgeous; she is like a dream. She is beauty with brains and it was a pleasure working with them.
How do you feel the film has turned out? The performances?
The film is magnificently beautiful. It is Ketan’s most honest and best piece of work. The film is a stunning piece of work. I am so proud to be associated with it.
Randeep, Nandana, Farina, Rachana and all the actors have done a great job and not to forget it is Ketan Mehta as the storyteller so it can’t get better.
How do you decide on a director for a certain film you are producing?
A Director is a captain of the ship. Usually directors have approached me with their scripts. While selecting a script with a director attached I ensure that their vision is very clear towards their film. A director should be able to the see the film way before it goes on the floor.
How much is a producer involved in the day-to-day shoots?
Production is an art with maths. One needs to be at it all the time and be a solutions provider. Production is all about anticipation and man management.
What do you think of cinema today, Bollywood and Hollywood?
Well, there is also independent cinema like us here and a lot in Hollywood. I think they both are very similar. The difference is of the scale. But now with Reliance investing with Steven Spielberg, it will only get better.
How did you get into this business?
I started with assisting in production on a film called Valley of Flowers directed by Pan Nalin. After that I went on to do Murder Unveiled — a love story, then PARTITION and so on. The first film that I produced was Say Salaam India and now Dasvidaniya is my second film as a co producer. And off course I was involved with Rang Rasiya.
I owe it to my industry seniors who have had faith in me and have taught me so much. Specially Vic Sarin and Harish Amin
If you had one strong piece of advice for someone wanting to become a movie producer, what would it be?
Be HONEST to the project. Once on floor the ‘Film’ is bigger than everything else. Dasvidaniya is a very personal film to me as I lost my mother between the shoot. She was suffering with Cancer. I choose to be a part of Dasvidaniya because of her. I always felt that a story of a cancer patient who decides to live his or her life to its fullest no matter how many days of life are left, needs to be told. What is important is the quality of life. Just go ahead and do what makes you happy, as life is too short. My mom was a fighter and was smiling till her very end. She is my strength and it’s because of her belief that I was able to cope with the troubles of my personal and professional life simultaneously. ‘The Best GOODBYE ever’ from me is dedicated to my mother.
A producer often has to put aside one’s grief to finish the work at hand as at any given time at least 50 lives revolve around the film one is involved in.
I would tell the new producers to think on their feet, to think quick and to think selflessly for their films.
If you were not in the film industry what other job can you imagine yourself doing?
Well, I would be….. a traffic policewoman directing the cars and millions on the streets…. Hehehe I can’t imagine myself doing anything but film.
Who do you feel is the best actor working today? Actress?
Irrfan Khan … I take inspiration from him. He is a true professional and he adds so much value to a role. And of course Vinay Pathak is brilliant. These two are the most accommodating actors, they understand a producers need for punctuality and deliver the directors dream by taking a character to another level. They reach out to a mass audience, as they understand the common man.
What do you think audiences today are looking for when they go see a film?
Realism and honesty of intent.
What productions do you have lined up next?
My company Sikhya entertainment with my partner Anjali Bhushan Nugyal is short-listing a few films. Our first is a yet to be titled romantic comedy in the realistic vein and there are three other scripts in development.
Sensitive and sensible, Guneet Monga is definitely a generation next producer. Dasvidaniya sounds like it is a must watch film! We wish Guneet all the best for Dasvidaniya and with her determination we are sure she and the movie will go places.