- Two Indian productions won Academy Awards, with The Elephant Whisperers winning Best Documentary Short and RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’ winning Best Original Song.
- The Elephant Whisperers depicts the bond between an indigenous couple and two orphaned baby elephants, while RRR is an epic tale of two revolutionaries fighting the British in the 1920s.
- ‘Naatu Naatu’ marks the first Indian song to win an Oscar, and RRR is the first Indian film to win.
Today, Indian cinema celebrated a remarkable achievement on the global stage, as two Indian productions received Academy Awards. The Elephant Whisperers won Best Documentary Short, while RRR’s song ‘Naatu Naatu’ won Best Original Song. Both films are deeply rooted in Indian culture and tell stories that are uniquely Indian.
The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, is a touching documentary that portrays the bond between a couple from an indigenous tribe in south India and their two orphaned baby elephants, Raghu and Ammu. In contrast, RRR, directed by SS Rajamouli, is an epic cinematic tale that combines action, adventure, music, and dance as it follows the friendship of two revolutionaries fighting against the British in the 1920s.
The Academy Awards ceremony was a moment of triumph for the team behind RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’ song, as musician MM Keeravani and lyricist Chandrabose received the prestigious award for Best Original Song. The song’s popularity, with over 124 million views on YouTube, played a significant role in powering the tireless campaign by the RRR team, led by Rajamouli, to win an Academy Award. This campaign was particularly meaningful since the Film Federation of India (FFI) had snubbed RRR during India’s official selection for the Best Foreign Film category. Despite this setback, the RRR team continued to work hard to bring home the coveted golden statuette.
Among a lineup of formidable competitors including Lady Gaga’s ‘Hold My Hand’ from Top Gun: Maverick, Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up’ from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, ‘This Is A Life’ from Everything Everywhere All At Once, and ‘Applause’ from Tell It Like A Woman, ‘Naatu Naatu’ emerged victorious at the Oscars. This win marked the second victory for an Indian film at the awards ceremony, with ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ having previously won Best Documentary Short Subject. Another Indian documentary, ‘All That Breathes,’ was nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film, but the award ultimately went to ‘Navalny.’
Following RRR’s remarkable achievement at the Oscars, members of the Indian film industry came together to congratulate the team. Film icons Rajinikanth and Chiranjeevi, RRR stars Alia Bhatt and Ajay Devgn, Academy Award-winning composer AR Rahman, and actors Hrithik Roshan and Mahesh Babu were among the many celebrities who expressed their congratulations after the film’s glorious victory.
‘Naatu Naatu’ has now achieved global domination, having previously won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in January. The song was performed live during the Oscars ceremony by singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava and danced by Lauren Gottlieb. Deepika Padukone, the third Indian to attend as a presenter after Persis Khambatta and Priyanka Chopra, introduced the performance.
MM Keeravaani and Chandrabose have joined the esteemed group of Indian Oscar winners, which includes costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, composer AR Rahman, lyricist Gulzar, sound engineer Resul Pookutty, and the legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray, who was awarded an honorary Oscar. Naatu Naatu’s win and RRR’s win mark the first time an Indian song and an Indian film, respectively, have won an Oscar.
RRR, which takes place in British India, has won over audiences worldwide, with sold-out screenings in Japan and a massive screening at a Los Angeles cinema where the crowd danced along to Naatu Naatu. The song, filmed outside the Presidential Palace in pre-war Kyiv, Ukraine, features an infectious dance battle between Ram Charan and Jr NTR’s characters, Raju and Bheem, against their British counterparts. After an intricate routine, Raju and Bheem emerge as the last ones standing, or dancing, victorious over their opponents.