Guneet Monga on initial struggle to get The Lunchbox released: 'Didn’t have money to book Irrfan Khan's room at Cannes'

Sep 14, 2023 03:07 PM IST

Guneet Monga co-produced The Lunchbox a decade ago, which was directed by Ritesh Batra, and starred Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur.

It's 10 years of The Lunchbox. While we now remember Ritesh Batra's epistolary romance for its tenderness, and the memorable performances of Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur, the film may have never reached us, had it not been for co-producer Guneet Monga. At the ongoing Toronto International Film Festival, the Oscar-winning filmmaker revealed how short on money they were before the film's premiere at Cannes Film Festival. (Also Read: Nimrat Kaur interview on starring in Apple TV's Foundation Season 2: I owe my international journey to The Lunchbox)

Irrfan Khan played a loner in Ritesh Batra's epistolary romance The Lunchbox
Irrfan Khan played a loner in Ritesh Batra's epistolary romance The Lunchbox

Guneet's new revelation

“We very sincerely made The Lunchbox, raised money in France, through private investors in India. It was a joint production between France, Germany, and India. We put together thoda thoda paisa (money little by little) from around the world, and it's going to Cannes (Film Festival). I was very excited. We were ready to give this film for somebody to cover our Cannes cost. We were just like, paise nahi hain Cannes jane ke liye (we didn't have the money to go to Cannes). Even to book Irrfan sir's room, we were freaking out. Our sales agent had another big film and that actress refused to show up. That suite got free and that's how we got him his room,” Guneet said at TIFF, where she's present for the world premiere of her new co-production, action thriller Kill.

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Karan recalls coming on board for The Lunchbox

Karan, whose Dharma Productions is co-producing Kill with Guneet's Sikhya Entertainment, recalled at TIFF how Guneet first approached him to co-produce The Lunchbox. “I was grabbing dinner (at Cannes Film Festival that year). And this very sprightly, young, dynamic girl approached me and said she produced Anurag Kashyap's chapter Murabba in our anthology Bombay Talkies. I had heard of her through Anurag. She said, ‘Forget that, that’s not what I'm here for. I produced this beautiful film called The Lunchbox that's being globally loved. I really want you to see it. And the first thing in my head was, ‘Lunchbox?’”

Karan added that Guneet's relentlessness made him watch The Lunchbox and he instantly agreed to come on board as a co-producer. He also said that Guneet is “the only woman” who has persuaded him like that.

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