noscript
Semafor LogoKarina Tsui
newsSouth Asia

Everything you need to know about RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’ — the first song from an Indian film to be nominated for an Oscar

Sign up for Semafor Flagship: A global, insightful daily briefing. Read it now.

Title iconThe News

Naatu Naatu, a jubilant dance number from the blockbuster Indian action-fantasy film RRR, has been nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song.

The catchy earworm, which features lyrics such as “eat chili and dance like this…dance as if a scorpion has bitten you,” has more than 38 million streams on Spotify and over 143 million views on YouTube.

Title iconKnow More

RRR, which tells the fictional story of two Indian revolutionaries fighting against British rule, is the country’s most expensive film yet, and has broken several box office records since its release in March 2022.

The fantasy saga has already become the country’s third highest-grossing film, and the second highest-grossing Telugu film worldwide. It has been ranked as one of the top 10 films on Netflix for 14 weeks straight, according to IndieWire.

Naatu Naatu, which plays an hour into the film, directly translates to “Dance Dance” in Telugu. Its video sequence, which has inspired numerous trends on social media, features characters Kormaram Bheem and Alluri Sitarama Raja in an epic dance-off against the British.

AD

Filmed in August 2021, the scene which the song appears in was filmed outside Ukraine’s presidential palace in Kyiv, just months before Russia launched a full-scale invasion on the country.

MM Keeravani, who composed the musical number, shared a tweet early Tuesday congratulating his team for this latest achievement.

The song is going up against some musical heavyweights, including Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna, but fans across the world are hopeful that Naatu Naatu will bag an Oscar win, with many expressing their excitement on Twitter.

In 2009, Indian composer AR Rahman secured two Oscar wins for his song Jai Ho in the movie Slumdog Millionaire; however the film was a British production.

Title iconStep Back

Despite the movie's widespread popularity and success, many fans and critics were surprised that it did not get an Oscar nomination for Best International Feature.

It's because the Film Federation of India did not submit RRR has its official Oscar entry. Instead the federation, as Indiewire reported, did what it usually does: ignored the hype and went with Chhello Show (Last Film Show in English), a coming-of-age drama, to represent the country in the category.

Hours before the nominations were announced on Tuesday, #NTRforOscars was trending on Twitter, with fans pushing for an Oscar nomination for the film. India also secured two other Oscar nominations this year, with Shaunak Sen’s film All That Breathes nominated for Best Documentary Feature Film, and Kartiki Gonsalves' Netflix documentary The Elephant Whisperers nominated for Best Documentary Short Film.

AD