- The most successful Indian film at the global box office, however, missed out in the Best Non-English-Language Film category to “Argentina, 1985.”
Not everyone in the audience may have followed composer M.M. Keeravani’s heavily accented acceptance speech after winning the Best Original Song award at the Golden Globes. But they understood the significance of the moment as they wildly cheered for his win for the foot-tapping “Naatu Naatu” song from S.S. Rajamouli’s “RRR” (Roudram, Ranam, Rudiram), edging past the other nominees including global pop icons Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.
The song’s popularity and success is reminiscent of A.R. Rahman’s “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won Best Original Song at the 81st Academy Awards. The Indian media couldn’t get enough of Rihanna walking up to Keeravani to congratulate him at the ceremony.
“RRR,” the most successful Indian film at the global box office, however, missed out in the Best Non-English-language Film category to “Argentina, 1985.”
Set in 1920s India, “RRR” centers around two real-life Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju (Charan) and Komaram Bheem (Rama Rao), their fictional friendship and their fight against the British Raj. It also stars Alia Bhatt, Ajay Devgn and Olivia Morris.
Fans, critics, actors, filmmakers, and first-time Indian movie watchers have been praising the film for Rajamouli’s vision, high-octane fight sequences and Keeravaani’s rousing musical soundtrack. It is Rajamouli’s second film to attain success after “Baahubali: The Conclusion.”
The lavish period epic is the first Indian film in over two decades to be nominated for the Golden Globes. The other two films nominated in the category were “Salaam Bombay!” (1988) and “Monsoon Wedding” (2001), both directed by Mira Nair.
Last month, Rajamouli received the best director award from the New York Film Critics Circle.
In an article discussing the cult status “RRR” has achieved in the global market, and the popularity of “Naatu Naatu,” Variety noted how social media platforms like TikTok have “propelled the movie’s U.S. domestic box-off success right out of the gate.”
Rajamouli told the entertainment portal that when he envisioned “Naatu Naatu,” even though both the lead actors are “great dancers,” he didn’t want “the steps to be so complicated that people can’t do it.” And when “millions and millions of people” trying to do the steps and posting on it, and “making the song into “such a big phenomenon, it clearly increased public interest in the film.”
Elaborating on the song, Keeravani told Variety that the beat has a great deal to do with the popularity. “The beat is 6/8 — that’s not very frequently heard from the West, but more frequently heard from India and sometimes from Africa and countries like that,” said the composer. “To be precise, it’s even a South Indian kind of beat, not so much North Indian. And in ‘Naatu Naatu,’ this beat took another dimension and another level of BPM (beats per minute) which is very rarely heard in the West. So that’s what primarily got the attention of the Western audience.” He also points to his singers: “I picked Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava to do justice to this melody and they gave their best. That’s why the song is what it is now.”
Variety magazine calls the three-hour-long film “a genre-bending epic filled with exhilarating action sequences, show-stopping musical numbers and a slew of wild animals.” NPR’s John Powers says the film is a reason to go back to the movies in cinema halls; while film critic Simon Abrams says it “feels simultaneously personal and gargantuan in scope.”
The Golden Globes win increases anticipation that “Naatu Naatu” could win an Academy Award. It is one of the 15 songs shortlisted for the best original song Oscar.
Meanwhile, Blumhouse founder Jason Blum, has predicted that “RRR” will win this year’s Oscar for Best Picture. “I’m going with ‘RRR’ winning best pic,” he tweeted. “You heard it here first. Mark it down, please. If I’m right, I am awarding myself my own Oscar. It’s RRR time. Don’t miss it. And no I’m not involved in any way. Nor do I know anyone associated with the movie. Just see it.”