Witerati: ‘Naatu’ to miss our Oscars’ poster girls

ByChetna Keer
Feb 19, 2023 12:14 AM IST

India’s new poster girls at the Oscars - Guneet Monga and Kartiki Gonsalves of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ fame — are game changers in more ways than one. And how!

When spring comes, can its heartwarming magic be far behind. In Valentine’s season, when every second who’s who was either tying the knot or succumbing to social media’s onslaught, there was one media moment that stood out.

Producer Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ fame will represent the country at this year’s Oscars. (REUTERS)
Producer Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ fame will represent the country at this year’s Oscars. (REUTERS)

Here, the media was going overboard over Bollywood couple Sidharth-Kiara’s destination wedding. What with all its frills, finery, filters. What with its curated costumes to customised kaleeras. What took the cake was that the kaleeras came so customised so as to commemorate the countenance of Sid’s departed canine, ironically called “Oscar”.

There, the media was going to town over real Hollywood stuff, the Oscars. India’s day out at the Academy Awards 2023.

The pre-Oscar photocall embodied India Shining’s golden moment at Beverly Hills

The game changer moment. And how!

What was game changing was this.

At the forefront of the class photocall of the 95th Oscars were India’s two women brand ambassadors rubbing shoulders with Hollywood’s Who’s Who, Tom Cruise to Cate Blanchett. India’s newest poster girls at the Oscars — producer Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ fame.

“Naatu” to miss poster boys MM Keeravani, composer of that iconic song, and Shaunak Sen, director of documentary ‘All That Breathes’. After team ‘Slumdog Millionaire’s’ day out in 2009, this perhaps was India’s next major outing

What was more game changing was that the new poster girls changed the way the world looks at India. Simply by the way they looked. Putting out a portrait of black and white, the duo’s style statement kept it simple, subtle and sophisticated.

While Monga’s minimalist ivory Kerala cotton saree boasted elephant motifs in gold to resonate their film. Gonsalves chose to keep it classic in black.

Global red carpets have seen plenty of Indian talent as well as tinsel town pirouetting and pouting. From the Golden Globes to Cannes to the Oscars. Who can forget frilled photocalls of Indian divas — Aishwarya pouting her ice maiden smile in a copper Armani Prive as weighty as her famous surname to Freida Pinto in a royal blue ruffled gown to Priyanka Chopra oozing oomph in $5 million worth of diamonds pricier than her Ralph & Russo silver corset. What the newest poster girls have shown the world is that the thing which counts is being comfortable in one’s skin, not sporting superfluous skin. Frilled or filtered.

What they have shown the world is that it’s more important to be a trailblazer than be tucked behind trails bigger than B-town vanities. Trails, to tug which one needs an obliging arm candy or dandy.

It is the glam quotient that has ruled India’s other recent outings on the Oscars red carpet. It’s mostly been about outdoing or overdoing, with frills and flounces.

Not to say there haven’t been understated appearances, say, a Bombay Rajashri resplendent in a red gold saree in 2013. But those have been few and far between.

What Monga and Gonsalves have shown is how to be minimalistic and let the body of work, rather than couture’s bling or bodice, do the talking.

What could be more refreshing than to see India’s brand ambassadors not letting some silly gown, that trails more than a mile, overpower their profile.

What a relief to see that what ruled at India’s night out was not pouts and pancakes, but “plain” professionalism. Not eye candy, but a clear-cut vision.

Talking of vision, with her oversized signature spectacles, Monga perhaps cocked a snook at that tweaked phrase: The world doesn’t make passes at girls with glasses.

And when Steven Spielberg takes a selfie with India’s powerhouses of talent, it’s not just a game changer moment.

It is a fame changer moment.

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