Hyderabad – India celebrated its two historic Academy Awards with enthusiasm to match the high-energy best original song “Naatu Naatu.”
The dance track from the blockbuster Telugu action epic RRR, the first nominated and awarded song from an Indian film, dazzled audiences everywhere with its energetic beats and choreography.
“The Elephant Whisperer” was named the best short documentary made in India for the first time at the awards ceremony on Sunday night. The documentary, now streaming on Netflix, follows a couple in southern India as they work to care for orphaned elephants and explores the bond between humans and animals.
‘Congratulations India’ trending on Twitter afterwards Natunatu MM Keeravani and Chandrabose beat out the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga for Best Original Song.
In the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, where Telugu is the main language, fans cheered the Telugu song’s global success. “It was an incredible feeling. Finally, a Telugu film did it and we won an Oscar,” said Venkata Ramanna, a software engineer, delighted, describing the award as “Exhilarating”.
From Indian celebrities and politicians to cricketers and ordinary citizens, India’s social media has been flooded with congratulations.
“#NaatuNaatu on top of the world!!!” cheered Chiranjeevi, a famous Telugu film actor and former politician, on Twitter.
“Brilliant! ‘Naatu Naatu’ is hugely popular around the world,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
He also congratulated director Kartiki Gonsalves and producer Gunit Monga, the female duo behind The Elephant Whisperer, for emphasizing “the importance of sustainability and living in harmony with nature” .
Munga tweeted that the award was “historic” for India and women: “To all women watching… The future is bold and the future is here,” she wrote.
Licypriya Kangujam, a young Indian climate activist, called the documentary’s win a proud moment for every environmentalist.
But the Naatu Naatu and RRR hashtags dominated social media on Monday.
The three-hour minimalist action epic is one of India’s most expensive and highest-grossing films of all time, starring two of the country’s biggest stars, NT Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan.
It also quickly climbed the US box office charts It was among the top 10 non-English movies for several weeks before it found a wider audience on Netflix. The wildly popular song also won a Golden Globe in January.
“Naatu Naatu is a global sentiment,” Charan tweeted while congratulating the “RRR” team. “This award belongs to every Indian actor, technician and moviegoer,” he wrote.
The song was filmed in August 2021 in front of the Mariinskiev Palace, the official residence of the Ukrainian president in Kiev, months before Russia invaded the country. It took 15 days to film the music video, which features around 50 dance lines and as many as 400 extras.
In an interview with Variety in January, director SS Rajamouli said he wanted to explore the film’s anti-colonial themes in the song with an action sequence that sees the film’s two main Indian actors dance better than their British counterparts. He said he wanted the choreography to “look great for two people to do together, but not so complicated that no one else could do it.”
The fast-paced dance moves quickly went viral, sparking TikTok challenges where users try to recreate the acrobatic moves. The catchy beat became an internet sensation, racking up over 122 million views on YouTube.
Backstage at the awards ceremony, Keeravani was thrilled with the win. “This is just the beginning of it all,” he said. “For the world, especially the western world, people prefer Indian and Asian music. It’s just been a long time. I’m happy to open the door and the world to embrace my culture.”
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