RRR And 'Naatu Naatu' — Making A Global Song And Dance About Everything Indian

With the Golden Globes out of the way, it is now the Oscars that is in its reckoning, writes Anand Mathew.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Source: Youtube)</p></div>
(Source: Youtube)

As ‘Naatu Naatu’ wins ‘Best Original Song’ at the 80th Golden Globes, it is time for the composer MM Keervani, lyricist Chandrabose and singers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj to soak in the limelight.

The raison d’etre for a mid-week party is here as the new year brings forth glorious tidings for the Indian film and entertainment industry and for the Telugu film industry or Tollywood, in particular.

The whole brouhaha across social media raging for months on ‘RRR’ hasn't been for nothing, for it has been a veritable symbol of all that represents Indian cinema, as everything ‘RRR’ smouldered over and peaked on the internet as 2022 drew to a close.

If there is one thing that will have YouTube algorithms in India going haywire today—it will be trying to control the mayhem unleashed after ‘Naatu Naatu’ picked up the Golden Globe for Original Song in Los Angeles early this morning.

For the uninitiated rambling to make sense of what was happening, some of the search picks could be ‘RRR song’, ‘Neet Naat’ or even ‘India Golden Globe winner song’. Oh, by the way, the tweeple diaspora  are going RRR’s NN gets GG, making the best use of Twitter’s original ruse for its existence, prior to the days of Musk.

Never has an Asian song in this category ever done it at the Globes and it speaks for the giant strides Indian entertainment and its key cohorts from regional film industries to Bollywood have taken over the past decade, tickling the palettes of a global audience.

Let us put RRR, its lead stars and its trailblazing director SS Rajamouli aside and put the spotlight on composer MM Keervani; Chandrabose, the lyricist; and singers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj for this amazing feat. The trio saw off competition from Ciao Papa from Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, Taylor Swift’s ‘Carolina’ for Where The Crawdads Sing, Lady Gaga’s ‘Hold My Hand’ from Top Gun, and Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up’ from Black Panther. To scrape through and come out on top after a tussle with such renowned talent is by itself a cause celebre. With the Golden Globes out of the way, it is now the Oscars that is in its reckoning.

The song, released on Nov. 10, 2021 had within less than three months got 200 million views on YouTube, and had created such enormous buzz that everyone was waiting for the film to release in theatres the following year.

Slithering out of the pandemic and marking the first major release in theatres in 2022 (March 25), ‘RRR’ released across India in dubbed versions apart from the original Telugu, going on to break box office records domestically as well as outside. 

Save This Dance For The Trophy

‘Naatu Naatu’ (Dance Dance/Naacho Naacho) embodies more than just a song or the almost epileptic dance steps that accompanies the lyrical beats in the film.

It is a virtual ‘sock it at ‘em’ invective directed at the marauding British, who are crushing Indians in the pre-Independence tale set in the 1930s. Picturised on NTR Rama Rao Junior and Ram Charan, playing two rebellious freedom fighters, the two enthuse the usual song and dance trope with pulverising alacrity that left even the been-there-done-that aficionados wide-eyed in disbelief.

The five-minute romp is the only light-hearted, feel-good short respite in a movie that is replete with action, thrills and tension as the two disparate protagonists team up to land a mighty storm in an otherwise languid English tea cup on Indian soil.

The song has taken on numerous versions on social media platforms with fans mining it for all sorts of memes and frolic videos, earning millions of views. In theatres across, fans were filmed breaking into impromptu assorted dance steps as the song came on though failing miserably to mime the breathless dance movements of NTR Junior and Charan.

Even in the U.S., the film’s release saw moviegoers belting out wolf whistles, going into raptures as some of the popular action scenes were played out. In Japan, that saw ‘RRR’ release late last year, both NTR Junior and Charan have become household stars with the film going on to become the highest grossing Indian film with over 410 million Yen.

<div class="paragraphs"><p>A still from RRR. (Source: RRR Movie/Twitter)</p></div>

A still from RRR. (Source: RRR Movie/Twitter)

Unleashing The RRR Factor

The director Rajamouli definitely knew that he had a good thing going as 'RRR' raked it in big time with a pan-Indian release. The producers and Rajamouli knew it was the perfect vehicle as a contemporary Indian masala potboiler to satiate the onscreen cravings of global audiences as the world careened out of a pandemic-induced reverie.

The film was screened across the U.S. and other foreign shores as he himself was feted headlining numerous film festivals and special screenings that were held along the way. This paved the way for the film to make the cut for several critics and popular awards.

Rajamouli bagged the New York Film Critics Circle award for best director and successfully kept the conversation going on his film, especially with the awards nomination season on the horizon.

Now, the wait is for the legendary Oscar nominations that will be announced on Jan. 24, to see if RRR can pepper aspirations for a nomination and a probable win.

Undoubtedly, the film has been a ubiquitous vehicle zooming around the globe showcasing India’s soft power of its movie stars and their movies.

Let’s raise a toast then to the storytellers and those who dared to dream; and to the army of unknown members of team 'RRR' without whose efforts none of this would have been possible. 

Anand Mathew is a social development consultant based in New Delhi. 

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of BQ Prime or its editorial team.