‘Naatu Naatu’ and The Elephant Whisperers make history at the Oscars 2023.


Indian cinema witnessed one of its biggest moments of glory on a global stage today when The Elephant Whisperers won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and RRR’s song ‘Naatu Naatu’ won for Best Original Song. Both The Elephant Whisperers and RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt) are Indian productions which tell stories deeply rooted in India and Indian culture.

The Kartiki Gonsalves-directed The Elephant Whisperers is a heartwarming documentary about Bomman and Bellie, a couple belonging to an indigenous tribe in south India, who dedicatedly look after orphaned baby elephants named Raghu and Ammu, forging a family like no other. In contrast, SS Rajamouli-directed RRR is a grand cinematic tale that packs action, adventure, music and dance as it follows the friendship of two revolutionaries who fight the British in the 1920s.

When musician MM Keeravani and lyricist Chandrabose received the coveted golden statuettes for Best Original Song at the Academy Awards, it marked the culmination of the euphoria that ‘Naatu Naatu’, the grand song-and-dance sequence from RRR had kicked off. The song’s immense popularity — 124 million views on YouTube and counting — powered the RRR team’s tireless campaign, spearheaded by Rajamouli.

This campaign acquired a special significance since the RRR team continued its efforts to bring home the coveted golden statuette even after being snubbed during India’s official selection made by the Film Federation of India (FFI) for the country’s official entry for the Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category.

When the FFI chose the Pan Nalin-directed Chhello Show as India’s entry (Chhello Show was later shortlisted for the Academy Award), for a brief period it was feared that RRR’s Oscar campaign might be cut short.

In the past, movies such as The Lunchbox (2013) and The Disciple (2020), could not sustain their Oscar campaign when they were not picked as India’s official entry in spite of receiving impressive international acclaim. Emboldened by the love and appreciation the Telugu-language RRR had received since its release abroad, the team submitted the film for Oscars nomination in 14 categories.

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