South Asian Representation at the Oscars: Telegu ‘RRR’ Wins Best Original Song

Feature Image courtesy of Deccan Chronical
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Indians everywhere are rejoicing over Naatu Naatu becoming the first Telegu song from a Tollywood film to win Best Original Song at the Oscars!

Asian representation at the 2023 Oscars was a beautiful sight to behold as the world collectively celebrates Everything Everywhere All At Once winning big. While Michelle Yeoh’s Best Actress win – along with Ke Huy Quan picking up Best Supporting Actor – has many Asians collectively celebrating this momentous honour, Indians everywhere are rejoicing over Naatu Naatu becoming the first Telegu song from a Tollywood film to win Best Original Song at the Oscars!

Indian music composer, record producer, and singer, M.M. Keeravani, who predominantly works in Telegu cinema won Best Original Song for his energetically catchy anthem ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the film RRR. ‘Naatu Naatu’ was written by M.M. Keeravani and lyricist Chandrabose, who also took home a coveted golden Oscar.

Image Credit: @Variety/Twitter

“It’s just the beginning of everything,” Keeravani said backstage after his win, reported by the Associated Press. “For the world, particularly the Western world, folks are more on India and Asian music. It’s just long due. I feel very happy to open doors and the world to embrace my culture.”

Ten songs by MM Keeravani that show his musical range | Mint Lounge
M.M. Keeravani | Image Credit: Mint Lounge

‘Naatu Naatu’ is the first song from an South Indian film to earn a nomination and win in the best original song category. Both Keeravani and Chandrabhose joins internationally acclaimed South Indian music producer and artiste A.R. Rahman, who won his Oscar in 2009 for the song ‘Jai Ho’ from Slumdog Millionaire. Despite the film’s setting, however, Slumdog Millionaire was entirely a British production.

Having some of the most memorable dance routines, actors Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr are now receiving international attention for the energy they put into their performance. ‘Naatu Naatu’ has become an international viral sensation racking over 122 million views on YouTube, and inspiring TikTok dance challenges being performed by people like the South Korean Ambassador to India, Chang Jae-bok.

Chandrabose (lyricist) - Wikipedia
Chandrabose | Image Credit: Wikipedia

When asked about his lyrics, Chandrabose spoke about the challenges of writing a song in a language that has 56 letters.

“We have a lot of words, expressions, a lot of feelings in our language,” he said backstage. “Very great language and very literary language. Very musical language. If you write it all, it will sound like music. … With people like you loving the song, it means that kind of music and sound makes this all possible.”

“It’s important so that more and more music and talented artistes from my country can have a chance to get this kind of recognition, so that the world embraces India music more than ever,” he said.

Other best original song nominees were Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up,’ a song she collaborated on with Tems, director Ryan Coogler and composer Ludwig Goransson; Lady Gaga’s ‘Hold My Hand’ with BloodPop,” Diane Warren’s ‘Tell It Like a Woman,’ and ‘This is a Life’ from Everything Everywhere All at Once. The latter track was created by Mitski, David Byrne and Ryan Lott, who along with his band Son Lux was also nominated for best original score.

Watch ‘Naatu Naatu’ here:


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