”The Elephant Whisperers” producer Guneet Monga on Friday said she got a ”huge shock” when her acceptance speech at the Oscars was cut off by music. Monga, whose film, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film, returned home with the golden statuette in the early hours of Friday.
”I am grateful. I feel like this is a blessing. I think 1.4 billion people manifested this together. So it’s surreal,” Monga told PTI at the airport. Celebrations broke out when the Tamil documentary short became the first Indian production to win an Oscar in the category. The award was given to both the women and Gonsalves spoke first, dedicated her win to ”motherland India”.
When Monga walked up to the mic, the music came on, indicating the end of their speech, and the team was escorted off stage. ”I got a huge shock when my speech was cut off by the music. I was on the stage but I loudly said to the people who were on the ground that this is India’s first Oscar for an Indian production and then everybody started clapping,” Monga said, holding up the Oscar.
At the post ceremony party, she said, several members of the international film community expressed their regret over what had happened. ”Literally everybody came to me in the Governors Ball and told me ‘We are so sorry, how did you get cut off?’ because I did not know how after my speech, the animation short got full time. That was a bit unfair,” Monga added.
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She said she wanted to thank her husband Sunny Kapoor as well as the team behind the documentary short, including streaming platform Netflix. ”I can’t believe that I was so zoned out and shocked. My heart started beating so fast. I thought I can’t come this far and not be heard. At that moment I felt that I would go back and give my speech again on the main stage… But backstage, I was able to give my speech. They cut us off, which was not nice,” the producer said.
“The Elephant Whisperers”, which is set in Tamil Nadu’s Mudumulai National Park, explores the relationship between elephants Raghu and Amu and their tribal caretakers Bomman and Bellie. Before ”The Elephant Whisperers”, Monga served as executive producer for ”Period. End of Sentence”, an India-set US production that also won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short in 2019.