Mumbai: Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Tuesday expressed his joy over ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ and ‘RRR’s’ extremely popular song ‘Naatu Naatu’ winning Oscars at the 95th Academy Awards. Taking to Twitter, Amitabh wrote, “T 4585 – WE WIN ! WE WIN TWO ! WE WIN FOR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE ! WE WIN !! Bharat Ka Jhanda Gaadh Diya, Videsh Mein! OSCAR 95.”
T 4585 – WE WIN ! WE WIN TWO ! WE WIN FOR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE ! WE WIN !! भारत का झंडा गाड़ दिया, विदेश में !
— Amitabh Bachchan (@SrBachchan) March 13, 2023
‘Naatu Naatu’, the irrepressible and power-packed fun number from noted filmmaker SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster ‘RRR’, and documentary short film ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ made Oscar history for India on Monday with one Academy Award each. Their victory not only showcased the Indian cinema beyond Bollywood but also the growing might of India’s non-feature segment. The presence of Indian cinema on the world stage with two such diverse subjects – one a mass entertainer and the other a documentary with an emotional message – made every Indian elated and beaming with pride.
This was also the first time that the two India-made productions bagged the cinema world’s biggest prize. Dancers took over the stage at Los Angeles’ Dolby Theatre, recreating the hugely popular hook steps from the four-minute Telugu track, and actor Deepika Padukone introduced the hugely popular song amid loud cheers.
While many anticipated an Oscar for ‘Naatu Naatu’ that won in the Best Original Song category, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ – winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject – was a landmark moment and a big bonanza for Indian cinema.
While the Academy Awards ceremony saw ‘Naaru Naatu’ performance getting a standing ovation, it was the moment to hail two Indian women – Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves – who made the impossible possible. “The Elephant Whisperers”, by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga, which explores the bond between humans and an abandoned elephant calf in a Tamil Nadu sanctuary, is India’s first win in the Documentary Short category. “Smile Pinki” and “Period. End of Sentence”, both set in India, had also won in the same category but they were foreign productions.
However, it was not just a night for India. the 95th Academy Awards will also be remembered for recognizing Asian talent with ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ bagging seven awards, including Best Film, Best Director for Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, Best Actress for Malaysia’s Michelle Yeoh and Best Supporting Actor for Vietnamese American Ke Huy Quan. ‘All That Breathes’, Shaunak Sen’s climate change documentary set in Delhi, lost out to Canada’s ‘Navalny’ on Russian dissident leader Alexei Navalny in the Documentary Feature category.
The win for ‘Naatu Naatu’, ‘Naacho Naacho’ in Hindi, composed by M M Keeravaani and penned by Chandrabose in SS Rajamouli’s blockbuster film, is the fourth non-English song to win an Oscar in the category and the first song in a foreign language since ‘Jai Ho’ in 2009 to bag the prize.
‘Naatu Naatu’ is as much a jubilant chorus as was ‘Jai Ho’, the foot-tapping number by A R Rahman and Gulzar from the British film “Slumdog Millionaire”. The trophy for Original Song was presented to Keeravaani and Chandrabose by “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” co-stars Janelle Monae and Kate Hudson. ‘Naatu Naatu’ was competing against ‘Applause’ (sung by Sofia Carson) from ‘Tell It Like a Woman’, “Hold My Hand” (Lady Gaga) from ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, “Lift Me Up” (Rihanna) from ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ and “This Is a Life” (Son Lux, Mitski, David Byrne) from ”Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
An overwhelmed Keeravaani broke into song to describe his feeling. “I grew up listening to The Carpenters and now here I am with the Oscars. There was only one wish on my mind, so was Rajamouli’s and our families’ – ‘RRR’ has to win, Pride of every Indian must put me on the top of the world,” Keeravani said in tune to The Carpenters’ much loved 1970s song ”Top of the World’. Chandrabose simply signed off with a ”Namaste.”
Producer Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves’ Netflix project ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ deals with the subject of abandoned elephants being taken care of by a couple, Bomman and Bellie in Madumalai National Park, Tamilnadu. Monga, who grew up in Delhi, the founder of Sikhya Entertainment, has produced notable films like Gangs of Wasseypur, Peddlers, The Lunchbox, Masaan, Zubaan and Pagglait.
Gonsalves dedicated her win to ‘motherland India’. Her producer Monga did not speak but struck an exultant pose, lifting the coveted golden statuette high in the air. “… To all the women watching”. The future is audacious and the future is here. Let’s go! Jai hind,” Monga wrote in an Instagram post moments later.
This is the third major international recognition for the Telugu song after Golden Globe and Critics Choice Awards win. “RRR” (Rise Roar Revolt), a pre-independence fictional story, follows two real-life Indian revolutionaries – Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (Jr NTR) – in the 1920s. It was released in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and a host of showbiz celebs, including Rajinikanth and Shah Rukh Khan hailed the twin Oscar wins.