A historic night for Indian cinema at the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
Indians are celebrating a historic night at the Oscars after a breakout hit from the action movie RRR and a short documentary, The Elephant Whisperers, won the Oscars.
“Naatu Naatu” won the award for the best original song and made history as the first homemade movie from the South Asian country to win the honor.
The song — a fast track that has found fans around the world, spawned a TikTok challenge and millions of views on YouTube — won a standing ovation when performed at the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles.
“No words can describe this surreal moment. Dedicating this to all our amazing fans around the world. THANKS!!,” the Twitter account for RRR posted.
Television footage showed people dancing to the song in the streets minutes after the award was announced, as #NaatuNaatu became a top trend on Twitter. The song also won the Golden Globes earlier this year.
“The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is worldwide. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi posted on Twitter, congratulating the team behind the song.
“All of India is proud. They have brought India to the world stage,” Prudhvi Chandra, one of the singers of “Naatu Naatu”, told India Today news channel.
In the film, made in South Indian language Telugu, and directed by S. S. Rajamouli, “Naatu Naatu” begins when the two protagonists, played by Ram Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr., show off their dancing skills after being teased as the some Indian people invited to a British party in colonial times.
When a young British man directs racial insults at the protagonists, they decide to educate him using the song “Naatu Naatu”.
Here is the energetic performance of “Naatu Naatu” from #RRR at the #Oscars. pic.twitter.com/Lf2nP826c4
— Variety (@Variety) March 13, 2023
During the scene, which was filmed in Ukraine’s grand Mariinskyi Palace, everyone at the party, including the mocking British man, tries to master the moves.
At the Oscars, composer MM Keeravani burst into song as he accepted the award on stage along with songwriter Chandrabose.
“I feel like this is just the beginning of everything so that the world – especially the Western world – is focusing more on Indian music and Asian music, which is long overdue,” Keeravani said backstage after winning the price.
Kartiki Gonsalves, who won for The Elephant Whisperers, is the first Indian director to win in the category and the first ever Indian to win in a directing category.
Indians had won Oscars before, but no Indian film had won an Academy Award before Sunday night.
The Elephant Whisperers is about an indigenous couple in South India who adopt and care for an orphaned baby elephant.
Gonsalves dedicated the Oscar “to my motherland India” and thanked the subjects of her documentary for sharing their tribal knowledge. “I stand here today to speak for the sacred bond between us and our natural world,” she said.
“We just won the first ever Oscar for an Indian production!” producer Guneet Monga tweeted. “Two women did this! I’m still shivering.”
In another tweet, Modi congratulated the two filmmakers on the honour. “Their work wonderfully emphasizes the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature,” he wrote.
Congratulations @EarthSpectrum, @guneetm and the whole team of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ for winning the Oscar.
These two women have made India 🇮🇳 proud with their heartwarming showcase of the beauty and importance of conservation. pic.twitter.com/Ckj2oJMTBa
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 13, 2023