'Naatu Naatu' from SS Rajamouli's magnum opus RRR made history by becoming the first Indian film to win an Oscar for best original song. The blockbuster track from the Telugu-language film won the honour beating heavyweights like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Composed by MM Keeravani, with lyrics by Chandrabose and vocals by Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava, the song became phenomenally popular soon after the film's release in March 2022. Shot on an epic scale with epic choreography, it is perfectly in sync with the vision and penchant of Rajamouli's previous blockbuster Baahubali (2015) for showing epic-scale grandeur on the screen.
RRR's Naatu Naatu Win at Oscars: What Does It Mean?
Keeravani in his acceptance speech sang a self-composed song honouring director Rajamouli and calling RRR the pride of India.
Earlier this year, 'Naatu Naatu' won a Golden Globe for the same category beating contenders like Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga. It also won Best Song at the Critics’ Choice Awards and the Hollywood Critics Association, the final stepping stone for the Oscars.
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023
The song was also performed live on the Oscars stage by singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava, accompanied by a dance troupe. While film's actors Ram Charan and Jr NTR did not perform on stage, Deepika Padukone introduced the performance, which late received a standing ovation at the ceremony.
Padukone in her introduction to the performance calls the song a global sensation with 'an irresistibly catchy chorus, electrifying beats and killer dance moves'. She also notes how the song not only earned millions of views but had audiences dancing in movie theatres. A sight quite common and expected in Indian cinema halls but a surprise in the West.
History bears ample witness that the West has often acknowledged awe and astonishment for the Indian entertainment industry, and for its 'over-the-top' song and dance numbers within the films. Hence, to watch viewers at the Los Angeles theatre tapping their feet to the heady beats of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is the ultimate recognition.
RRR's win at Oscar: Why Does It Matter?
In 2009, AR Rahman’s Jai Ho, written by Gulzar, also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. However, it was for Slumdog Millionaire, a British film. In that sense, RRR’s win is special. It is the first-ever Oscars received for a song composed and produced by an Indian production. According to BBC, the song was shot over 15 days, with 150 dancers and a crew of 200 working 12 hours a day. This win was a long-awaited sweet affair for the Indian cinema.
Today, Indian cinema is witnessing a major change and RRR’s global success is the perfect testimony to it. A song that brought together the nation much to everyone's delight also put forth a massive headway for Indian cinema in the West market.
While films like Neecha Nagar (1946), Mother India (1957), Pather Panchali (1955), Salaam Bombay (1988), Bandit Queen (1994) and Lagaan (2001) did make a wave far beyond the Indian shores, the kind of success RRR and its song found outside the subcontinent have alluded to India’s mainstream cinema.
Meanwhile, the honour conferred on Indian cinema at the prestigious awards ceremony should be a reason enough for all of us to set our feet tapping to the beats of 'Naatu Naatu' and celebrate with equal amounts of gusto.. just the way it has been done on screen.
Views expressed by the author are their own