Bollywood is celebrating the historic win of two Indian productions at the 95th Academy Awards. The action movie RRR made history as the first Indian film to win the Academy Award for Best Original Song with the hit song ‘Naatu Naatu’.
The documentary film, The Elephant Whisperers, also won an Oscar in the Best Documentary Short category, making it the first Indian film to receive the award in this category.
The Indian-American short documentary film is a heartwarming tale that narrates the story of a couple who forms an unbreakable bond with an orphaned baby elephant, Raghu. The film’s setting is the picturesque Mudumalai National Park in Tamil Nadu, South India, which is home to awe-inspiring natural surroundings.
The documentary showcases how tribal communities coexist harmoniously with nature. It is a poignant portrayal of the connection between animals and humans and how they can thrive together in harmony. The film also offers a glimpse into Indian culture and the nation’s longstanding efforts to protect the environment.
Director Kartiki Gonsalves gave an impassioned acceptance speech, highlighting the sacred connection between humans and the natural world, the significance of respecting indigenous communities, and the importance of empathy towards all living beings.
Producer Guneet Monga proudly announced the win on Instagram, calling it historic and significant, as the first-ever Oscar win for an Indian production with two women at the helm.
Although Indian films had been nominated twice before in the Best Documentary Short category, they were unable to secure the award – The House That Ananda built in 1969 and An Encounter With Faces in 1979. The Elephant Whisperers’ success marks a major milestone for Indian cinema and celebrates the country’s rich storytelling heritage.
Whispers turn to roars!
THE ELEPHANT WHISPERERS JUST WON AN OSCAR ???????????? pic.twitter.com/ZeD0MhzbaL
— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) March 13, 2023
MP and senior leader of the opposition Congress party Rahul Gandhi congratulated Ms Gonsalves and Ms Monga. “These two women have made India proud with their heart-warming showcase of the beauty and importance of wildlife conservation,” he tweeted.
Heartiest congratulations to @EarthSpectrum, @guneetm and the entire team of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ for winning the Oscar.
These two women have made India ???????? proud with their heart-warming showcase of the beauty and importance of wildlife conservation. pic.twitter.com/Ckj2oJMTBa
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 13, 2023
The Bollywood icon, SRK, also shared his joy on Twitter.
Big hug to @guneetm & @EarthSpectrum for Elephant Whisperers. And @mmkeeravaani #ChandraBose ji @ssrajamouli @AlwaysRamCharan @tarak9999 thank u for showing us all, the way to do it. Both Oscars truly inspirational!!
— Shah Rukh Khan (@iamsrk) March 13, 2023
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the team behind the film on Twitter, stating “Congratulations to @EarthSpectrum, @guneetm and the entire team of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ for this honour. Their work wonderfully highlights the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature. #Oscars “
Congratulations to @EarthSpectrum, @guneetm and the entire team of ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ for this honour. Their work wonderfully highlights the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature. #Oscars https://t.co/S3J9TbJ0OP
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2023
Indians around the world erupted in celebration on Monday as the song “Naatu Naatu” from the action movie RRR made history by winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song, marking the first time a movie from India has won this prestigious honour.
The fast-paced song, which has gained immense popularity worldwide and even spawned a TikTok challenge, received a standing ovation during the 95th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night.
While Indians have won Oscars in the past, no Indian film had ever won an Academy Award until Sunday night in Los Angeles. This historic moment was further magnified by the win of “The Elephant Whisperers” in the Best Documentary Short Film category, making it two Oscar-winning films for India in one night. This is undoubtedly a momentous occasion for the Indian film industry and a milestone for its global recognition.
The Twitter account for RRR expressed their gratitude, stating, “No words can describe this surreal moment. Dedicating this to all our amazing fans across the world. THANK YOU!!” The hashtag #NaatuNaatu also trended on Twitter, and people were seen dancing in the streets to celebrate the win.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated the team behind the song on Twitter, stating, “The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is global. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come.” Singer Prudhvi Chandra, one of the singers of ‘Naatu Naatu’, also praised the song, telling India Today news channel that the “entire India is proud” and that the song “will be remembered for a long time”.
The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is global. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come. Congratulations to @mmkeeravaani, @boselyricist and the entire team for this prestigious honour.
India is elated and proud. #Oscars https://t.co/cANG5wHROt
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) March 13, 2023
In the film RRR, directed by S.S. Rajamouli and made in the Telugu language, the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ plays a pivotal role in the story. It begins when the two leads, played by Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr., show off their dance skills after being bullied as the only Indian people invited to a British party in colonial times. When a young British man aims racist insults at them, they decide to educate him using the song ‘Naatu Naatu’. During the scene, which was filmed at Ukraine’s grand Mariinskyi Palace, everyone at the party, including the scoffing British man, tries to master the moves.
Composer M.M. Keeravani and songwriter Chandrabose accepted the award on stage at the Oscars, and Keeravani burst into song, exclaiming “I feel this is about just the beginning of everything so that the world — particularly the Western world — focuses more on Indian music and Asian music, which is long due,” after winning the award.