Why India’s Naatu Naatu song wowed the Oscars jury in 2023?

A still from the song Naatu Naatu | USbites

All of the elements of the superhit musical number Naatu Naatu – which won a historic Oscar for Best Original Song – fell into place over the course of about 19 months.

Naatu Naatu, a song from the Telugu blockbuster RRR (Rise Roar Revolt), was the first Indian film song to be nominated for an Oscar.

Its singers also performed at the Academy Awards, which will be broadcast in India on Monday.

After the film’s release in the United States last year, the song became a global sensation, inspiring endless Instagram reels and social media dance trends. Its quick tempo and synchronized choreography were an instant hit with audiences.

Naatu Naatu, composed by MM Keeravani and written by Chandrabose, made history in January when it won the Golden Globe for best original song, defeating competitors such as Rihanna, Taylor Swift, and Lady Gaga. The song also won the Critics’ Choice award for best song the same month.

“It’s not just the music or the dance – the entire story of RRR can be summarized within these 10 minutes of Naatu Naatu,” SS Rajamouli, the film’s director, told Vanity Fair.

RRR is a historical fantasy starring Ram Charan and Jr NTR that tells the fictional story of two revolutionaries fighting against British rule in India.

Rajamouli describes Naatu Naatu as a “fight scene” in which two freedom fighters use dance to bring a British officer to his knees.

“The song is a story within the larger story of the film,” said the director.

Back in 2020, when RRR was still in the works, Rajamouli told Keeravani that he needed a song to showcase his heroes’ dancing abilities.

Keeravani then addressed his favorite lyricist Chandrabose, saying: “Fill in the blanks with whatever you want. However, because this story takes place in the 1920s, use period-appropriate language.”

With no melody or tune to work with, Chandrabose created the hook line “Naatu Naatu,” which translates to “Dance, Dance” in Telugu.

He told BBC Telugu that he had written an uptempo song with a fast beat that Keeravani liked. The beat is commonly heard in folk songs from India’s two Telugu-speaking states, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Drawing inspiration from his childhood in Telangana, Chandrabose included several folk references in the song, such as eating chili with jowar roti (red sorghum bread).

The majority of the song was finished in two days, according to Chandrabose. However, the remaining portion took 19 months to complete.

Prem Rakshit, the song’s choreographer, is credited with much of Naatu Naatu’s success, according to Rajamouli and Keeravani.

“Each of them [the actors] has their own style,” Rajamouli previously stated. “So he had to find something that would work for both of them.”

Rakshit revealed that he created 30 variations of NTR Jr and Ram Charan’s signature step, in which their arms are wrapped around each other. After Charan asked the director “if they could do something” with the costume, the delightful sequence had to be further improvised.

The song concludes with a marathon dance-off in which all of the dancers kick up a storm before collapsing one by one in exhaustion until only the heroes remain standing.

Then it’s Ram Charan and NTR Jr’s turn to compete, with a dance competition between the two heroes. Rajamouli explained that he attempted to establish the film’s themes of friendship, rivalry, and solidarity through the sequence.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Fans have been attempting to replicate the intricate foot swivels and catchy dance moves since the film’s release last year. When the song played at a film screening in Los Angeles, the audience would often rush to the stage to dance.

Despite the fact that the track was shot in front of Ukraine’s Mariinskyi Palace, a stunning sea-blue structure, Rajamouli stated that his goal was to recreate the atmosphere of an Indian village. In previous interviews, the director admitted that people called him “crazy” for filming in a war-torn country.

The song was shot over the course of 15 days, with 150 dancers and a crew of 200 people working 12 hours a day.

Rakshit stated that whenever he approved a take, Rajamouli would request “one more” shot.

“He went frame by frame to make sure we were all on the same page,” Charan explained in an interview.

The song is still popular with audiences nearly a year after it was released. And with an Oscar win, the excitement is only growing.

As Charan said, the “song is no longer our song. It is public property. People of all ages and cultures have embraced it.”

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