AA Edit | Naatu Naatu and elephant docu deserve their Oscars

By winning the award that has been time and again denied to India, it has told the world about our creative prowess

Update: 2023-03-13 19:16 GMT
Composer M.M. Keeravaani and musician Chandrabose accept the Oscar for Best Music (Original Song) for "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR" onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Patrick T. Fallon / AFP)

S.S. Rajamouli has proved that he is a filmmaker who not only believes in making films with a historical backdrop but also in creating showbiz history. Though his magnum opus ‘RRR’ was not India’s official entry to the Oscars he did not give up and entered the race independently. The electric, high-on-energy, foot-tapping song ‘Naatu, Naatu’, shot on the lawns of the Presidential Palace of Kyiv in Ukraine, pipped the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga to win the best original song award.

While earlier A.R. Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ had won an Oscar for an original song, it was for the British movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire’.

Indeed, ‘RRR’ is the first Indian film to win this coveted golden statuette for a song and hence it needs to be celebrated. This song marks the rise of India’s soft power and the arrival of Indian movies on a global stage.

More special is the fact that it is the song’s original Telugu version that won the award and was played during the award ceremony in Los Angeles helping the world of entertainment globally to look beyond Bollywood when it comes to Indian films.

The maverick music composer M.M. Keeravani, singers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj, lyricist Chandrabose, and choreographer Prem Rakshith deserve all the accolades. And so do the boys, Jr. NTR, and Ram Charan to not miss even a beat while dancing in sync and giving the audience a memorable hook step.

In ‘RRR’ a British officer taunts Jr. NTR that Indians do not know anything about art and dance. Jr. NTR along with Ram Charan picks up the gauntlet and breaks into ‘Naatu Naatu’ and makes all present there emulate it eventually. That’s exactly what this song which celebrates Indian culture, ethics, and roots unapologetically has achieved. It is an answer to the colonial mindset in the movie and in real life too. Today the entire world is grooving to this peppy number.

By winning the award that has been time and again denied to India, it has told the world about our creative prowess.

It’s not only this song that has left an indelible mark on the world. We are no less when it comes to story-telling as well. The other winner, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ is a shining testament to it. The just 40-minute-long documentary commemorates the bond between an aging couple and a baby elephant. The directorial debut of Kartiki Gonsalves again is something that speaks volumes about Indian values. It is in sharp contrast to Polish auteur Jerzy Skolimowski’s ‘EO’, also a contender in the foreign language category. While Skolimowski’s movie talks about the bestiality of humans towards animals, Kartiki’s documentary shows how Indians shower love even on animals.

India’s performance at the Oscars and other international awards of late has been unprecedented and now the filmmakers need to build on this newfound much-needed momentum and aspire for more important categories. With boundaries fast blurring with the rise of OTTs, and global fora looking for a diverse award portfolio, filmmakers back home should make the most of it. Indian movies are no less than their peers worldwide and it is high time that they got their due.


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