RRR’s ‘Naatu Naatu’ Goes from Viral Hit to Oscar Winner

RRR’s “Naatu Naatu” became the first song from an Indian film to ever win the award for best original song at Sunday’s Academy Awards, defeating a field of big hitters that included Lady Gaga, Rihanna, and longtime candidate Diane Warren.

The success of “Naatu Naatu” had many authors, from the stars who danced to it in RRR (N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan) to the vocalists who performed it (Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava) to the choreographer who helped make its video a viral sensation. Songwriters M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose received the Oscar statuettes (Prem Rakshith). Unlike the other songs up for the award for best original song, “Naatu Naatu” was an integral part of the movie from which it originated. It first appears in RRR an hour in and serves as the soundtrack to a fierce dance fight between the movie’s central characters and a bunch of stuffy British colonisers.

In this year’s field of nominees, “Naatu Naatu” was widely regarded as the front-runner, beating out Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” (from Top Gun: Maverick), Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up,” Sofia Carson’s “Applause,” David Byrne and Mitski’s “This Is a Life,” and Son Lux, David Byrne, and Mitski’s “This Is a Life” (from Everything Everywhere All At Once). Diane Warren, who had written “Applause,” failed to win an Oscar for the 14th consecutive year in a tight race.

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