Oscar-winning producer Guneet Monga, known for producing films like ‘The Lunchbox’ and ‘Masaan’, has been conferred with the second highest civilian French honour Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by French Foreign Affairs Minister H E Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday.
Monga has been honored for her contribution to world cinema through her many successful Indo-French productions and relentless work towards women empowerment through her recently-founded cinema collective Indian Women Rising.
She was offered the title for her unparalleled contributions to the films barring the geographical boundaries with content that resonates with audiences beyond the demographic bounds.
While receiving the award, the 37-year old filmmaker said that being someone who has been a huge admirer of French cinema, receiving the honour was a "special" moment. “It feels like my life and my work has come to full circle today,” she said.
Monga, through her production company, Sikhya Entertainment, has spearheaded several acclaimed Indo-French productions including actor Irrfan Khan-starrer The Lunchbox, filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan's 2015 drama Masaan, Taj Mahal, What Will People Say, Soorarai Pottaru, Haramkhor, Peddlers and Oscar-winning Short Film Documentary - Period, End of Sentence to name a few.
In 2013, The Lunchbox received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival and won Critics Week Viewers Choice Award also known as Grand Rail dOr at the 66th Cannes Film Festival. The film was released the same year in France to critical and public acclaim.
“With my content, I've constantly strived to uplift women’s narrative in cinema. I'm grateful for this honour and would like to share it with my co-founders of Indian Women Rising and my entire team at Sikhya Entertainment. Even though the honour has mine and my family's name on it, I dedicate this award to every girl with a dream. Continue to dream freely and create fearlessly. The universe is always conspiring in favour of the brave and I stand here as proof of that! May our tribe rise!," Monga added.
Her participation at the Cannes Film Festival continued with various other titles like Peddlers which was selected at the Critics’ Week, Gangs of Wasseypur which was selected in Directors’ Fortnight, Monsoon Shootout which premiered in the midnight section in Cannes and Masaan which won FIPRESCI Prize and Prix de l'Avenir in Un Certain Regard category at the festival.
On the occasion, Minister Le Drian said, “India and France share the same passion for cinema. I was proud to congratulate Indian and French women producers for their Indo-French collaborations and for their work towards gender equality in this field. The Embassy of France in India will also play its part, through this agreement with the Collectif 50/50. Gender equality is a foremost priority of France’s foreign policy.”
Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France rewards contributors across the globe under three categories- Commandeur, Officier and Chevalier. Awardees including Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bruce Willis have been felicitated with the Commandeur title while Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Michael Keaton amongst others have won the Officier title.
Monga would be conferred with the Chevalier, after Shakira, Kamal Hassan, Nandita Das, amongst others.
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)