A first Academy Award for an Indian film — and then a second on the same night
Indians erupted in celebration on Monday after ‘Naatu Naatu’, the breakout hit from the action movie RRR, won the Academy Award for best original song, making history as the first movie from the country to win the honour.
The song — a fast-paced number that has found fans all over the world, spawned a TikTok challenge and has millions of views on YouTube — won a standing ovation when it was performed at the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday night.
Indians had won Oscars previously, but no Indian film had won an Academy Award before Sunday night in Los Angles. RRR and The Elephant Whisperers, which won best documentary short film, gave the country two Oscar-winning films in one night.
“No words can describe this surreal moment. Dedicating this to all our amazing fans across the world. THANK YOU!!,” the Twitter account for RRR posted.
Television showed images of people dancing to the song in the streets, minutes after the award was announced, even as #NaatuNaatu was a top trend on Twitter.
“The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is global. 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.
“Entire India is proud. They have brought India to the world stage,” singer Prudhvi Chandra, one of the singers of ‘Naatu Naatu’, told the India Today news channel.
In the film, made in the South Indian language of Telugu and directed by S.S. Rajamouli, ‘Naatu Naatu’ begins when the two leads, played by Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr., flaunt their dance skills after being bullied as the only Indian people invited to a British party in colonial times.
When a young British man aims racist insults at the leads, they decide to educate him using the song ‘Naatu Naatu’. During the scene, which was filmed at Ukraine’s grand Mariinskyi Palace, everyone at the party, including the scoffing British man, tries to master the moves.
At the Oscars, composer M.M. Keeravani burst into song while accepting the award on stage, along with songwriter Chandrabose. “I feel this is about just the beginning of everything so that the world — particularly the Western world — focuses more on Indian music and Asian music, which is long due,” Keeravani said backstage after winning the award.
The Elephant Whisperers is about a couple in South India who adopt a baby elephant and care for him.
The following is the full list of 2023 Oscar winners:
Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Actor (female)
Michelle Yeoh, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Actor (male)
Brendan Fraser, The Whale
Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor (male)
Ke Huy Quan, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best Supporting Actor (female)
Jamie Lee Curtis, Everything Everywhere All at Once
Best International Feature Film
All Quiet on the Western Front, Germany
Best Animated Feature Film
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
Best Documentary Feature Film
Best Original Screenplay
Everything Everywhere All at Once, written by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert
Best Adapted Screenplay
Women Talking, screenplay by Sarah Polley
Best Original Score
All Quiet on the Western Front, Volker Bertelmann
Best Original Song
‘Naatu Naatu’, from RRR, music by M.M. Keeravaani; lyrics by Chandrabose
All Quiet On The Western Front, James Friend
Avatar: The Way of Water
Top Gun: Maverick
Everything Everywhere All at Once
All Quiet On The Western Front
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Ruth Carter
Makeup and Hairstyling
Documentary Short Film
The Elephant Whisperers
Short Film, Live Action
An Irish Goodbye
Short Film, Animated
The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse