By Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – “Naatu Naatu”, the standout song in the Indian period film “RRR,” has won a Golden Globe and a Critics Choice Award, garnered hundreds of millions of views on YouTube and spawned a TikTok challenge.
On Tuesday, it received an Oscar nomination for best original song, making history as the first Indian feature film to be nominated for anything other than best international film at the Academy Awards.
Composer M.M. Keeravani is confident the Oscar statuette is within reach at the ceremony in Hollywood on March 12.
“Yeah, I can see the moment taking its root to the road high and higher, so all fingers crossed and I have full confidence in Oscar too,” he said during a recent interview with Reuters.
Keeravani he found out about his nomination on Tuesday while at a recording studio in India doing a session with a programmer and some of his singers.
“They were all very excited and they were jumping out of joy,” Keeravani said with a laugh. “I wasn’t jumping because I was surrounded by them and they were suffocating me with their congratulations and their hugs.”
“Naatu Naatu” and Keeravani are competing with some big household names in the best song category, including Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick” and Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”.
In the action-Bollywood epic 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 shot at Ukraine’s grand Mariinskyi Palace, everyone at the party, including the scoffing British man, tries to master the moves.
“Naatu means ethnicity, ethnic,” said Keeravani.“Whatever I do is purely mine. It’s my own experience, it’s my own way of expression. These are my words, this is my style, look at me, this is who I am.”
“Naatu Naatu” is the first song from an Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar and the first nominated song in the Telugu language. In 2008, Indian composer A.R. Rahman won the Oscar for the Hindi song “Jai-Ho,” but that was for the U.S.-British production of “Slumdog Millionaire,” which was set in India.
(Reporting by Rollo Ross, Danielle Broadway and Alicia Powell; Editing by Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)