March 30, 2023

Great Indian Mutiny

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India won Oscars for “Natu Nadu” and Documentary

India celebrated its two historic Academy Awards with a fervor befitting the energy of “Natu Nadu” for Best Original Song.

The catchy and danceable track from the Telugu-language blockbuster “RRR” was the first Indian film to win an Oscar and has captivated international audiences with its dynamic rhythm and choreography.

But that wasn’t the only award of the night for the country, as the short documentary “The Elephant Whisperers” (“Our Little Elephant”) took home the Oscar at Sunday’s ceremony, the first win for an Indian production. The short film, available on Netflix, tells the story of a couple who care for an orphaned elephant in South India and explores the bond between humans and animals.

The phrase “Congratulations India” trended on Twitter after MM Keeravani and Chandra Bose’s “Natu Nadu” beat the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga in the Best Original Song category.

In Hyderabad, where Telugu is the main language, people were happy with the success of the song. “It’s an incredible feeling. Finally, a Telugu film has done it and we’ve won an Oscar,” said an elated software engineer Venkata Ramanna, describing the win as “thrilling”.

Indian celebrities and politicians, cricketers and citizens celebrated the winners on social media.

“#NaatuNaatu on the world!!!” A leading Telugu actor and politician Chiranjeevi wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Exceptional! ‘Natu Nadu’ fame is world wide.”

The Prime Minister congratulated director Karthiki Gonsalves and producer Guneet Monga, the woman filmmaker behind “The Elephant Whisperers”, for underlining the “importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature”.

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Monga tweeted that the award was “history” for India and women. “To all the women who look up to us… the future is bold and the future is here,” she wrote.

Licipria Gangujam, a young climate activist, said the success of the documentary was a proud moment for environmentalists.

On Monday, the hashtags Nadu Nadu and RRR continued to dominate social media.

The three-hour action maximalist epic is one of India’s highest-grossing and costliest films and brings together two of the country’s biggest actors, ND Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan.

It also performed well at the box office in the US, where it was among the top 10 most-watched non-English language productions for weeks on end, before finding massive audiences on Netflix. The highly popular song “RRR” also won a Golden Globe in January.

“‘Nadu Nadu’ is a worldwide sensation,” Saran tweeted and congratulated the “RRR” team. “This award belongs to every Indian actor, technician and film buff,” he wrote.

The video for the song was filmed in front of the Mariinsky Palace in Kew, the official residence of Ukraine’s president, a few months before Russia invaded the country in August 2021. The crew took 15 days to shoot the video, which involved around 50 dancers and 400 extras.

In an interview with Variety in January, director SS Rajamouli said he wanted to explore the film’s anti-colonial themes with an action sequence in which the film’s two main Indian actors danced more than the British. He said he likes choreography “that’s beautiful because it’s two people doing it together, but not so complicated that no one person can do it.”

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The fast-paced dance steps went viral, sparking a TikTok challenge where users try to recreate the acrobatic moves. Thanks to its catchy beat, it became an internet sensation, garnering over 122 million views on YouTube.

Backstage at the Oscars, Keeravani was excited about the win. “This is the beginning of everything,” he said. “In the world, especially in the West, people are more interested in Indian and Asian music. It’s something that has taken time to happen. I’m very happy to open doors and the world to accept my culture.