MUSCAT: 13 March 2023, will go down as a red-letter day for the Indian music and film industry. A historic night saw India celebrating two massive achievements at the Oscars during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, USA.
‘Naatu Naatu’, the song in movie RRR, that made millions groove to its beats, was named the winner in the original song category while ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ won the Oscar in the best documentary short film’ category on Monday morning.
The Indian expatriate community in Oman joined in celebrating the double delight globally.
Times of Oman spoke to a cross-section of Indians, who were delighted at the twin success at the world’s most prestigious stage - Oscars.
P Chandrasekr, Group General Manager, Jawad Sultan Group, said: “It is a momentous day for India. The news of Oscar wins for two Indian entries was something of a disbelief. It took some time for me to sink in the news. I can’t recollect such a humongous performance by the Indian entries at any time in the past.
“It is history of sorts. Firstly, ‘Naatu Naatu’ song in ‘RRR’, the magnum opus of S S Rajamouli, who now matches in stature with that of the legendary Steven Spielberg. ‘RRR’ is not just a film alone. In fact, it presents a complete experience for the viewers. Going forward, it has raised the bar for all, in times to come. ”
Chandrasekr added: “The film ’The Elephant Whisperers’, though a documentary, is very successful in capturing the emotions of pachyderms and their connection with humans. It truly is a masterpiece. These wins have brought in great moments for India on the international arena, perhaps echoing its exalted image on all fronts. As an Indian, it is a great moment of pride and joy.”
The song ‘Naatu Naatu’ is a fast-paced number that has found fans all over the world, spawned a TikTok challenge and has millions of views on YouTube. The song also won the Golden Globes earlier this year.
At the Oscars, the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ was performed by a power-packed singing duo Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava and won a standing ovation. Lyricist Chandrabose and composer MM Keeravani accepted the trophy. During their acceptance speech, Keeravani said, "I grew up listening to the Carpenters and now here I am with the Oscars."
Television images showed people dancing to the song in the streets in India, minutes after the award was announced, as #NaatuNaatu became a top trend on Twitter.
'Naatu Naatu' competed against 'Applause' from the film 'Tell It Like A Woman,' 'Hold My Hand' from the movie 'Top Gun: Maverick,' 'Lift me Up' from 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,' and 'This Is Life,' from 'Everything, Everywhere All At Once'.
Dr E B S Ramanathan, senior consultant, Muscat Private Hospital, who is an arts and culture aficionado, said: “No words can describe this great moment for India: Winning two big Oscars in one year. It is a sign that our Indian film industry is spread across the country and not just in Bollywood. ‘Naatu Naatu’ song has captured the hearts of the whole country.
“However, it was’ The Elephant Whisperers’ that was a silent winner. I have seen the documentary and was captivated by its simplicity and the emphasis is on family values and nature conservation. These awards announce to the world that Indian cinema and filmmaking have arrived.”
The short documentary film’s plot revolves around a family who adopts two orphaned baby elephants in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, located in the southern Indian state Tamil Nadu.
Guneet Monga's 'The Elephant Whisperers', a documentary directed by Kartiki Gonsalves paved the way for many to believe that India truly can take the centre stage globally. It won the Oscar against 'Haulout,' 'How Do You Measure A Year?' 'The Martha Mitchell Effect,' and 'Stranger at the Gate'.
Muralidhar Reddy, Sagar Polyclinic general manager, was delighted that a song from a Telugu film won the Oscar.
Hailing from the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where Telugu is spoken, Reddy said: “It is a proud moment for all Indians. Winning an Oscar was long awaited. I feel happy as the song ‘Naatu Naatu’ is from ‘RRR’, a Telugu film. It’s been a mega box office hit. The twin success at Oscars means a lot. All credit to S S Rajamouli the director of ‘RRR’, and the stars who performed the dance. The music director, MM Keeravani, and lyricist Chandrabose deserve a big round of applause. With two Oscars, the Indian film industry has set a new benchmark now.”
Dr Sanjay Dalal, founder of Talent Hunters Oman, who has been credited to provide platforms for young Omani and expat singers for the past many years, said: “This is absolutely a stunning achievement and I along with Indians from across the world are over the moon. The song ‘Naatu Naatu’ is fast-paced and brilliantly composed. Kudos to the lyricist and the music composer.
“The short documentary, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ gives us a strong message on how to be close to nature and love all its creations. The message is to stay in harmony with nature and the bonding exemplified in the documentary is exceptional. It is a touching movie and, in fact, it brought tears to my eyes. Unfortunately, humans have exploited and abused nature a lot but this movie highlights the special bond between elephants and humans.”
Indians had won Oscars previously, but no Indian film had won an Academy Award before Sunday night in Los Angeles. Prior winners include Bhanu Athaiya (best costume design for film Gandhi in 1983), Satyajit Ray (honorary Oscar award in 1992 for Lifetime Achievement), AR Rahman and Gulzar (best original song, Jai Ho in film Slumdog Millionaire in 2009), AR Rahman (best original score for Slumdog Millionaire), Resul Pookutty (best sound mixing in Slumdog Millionaire), and Guneet Monga (Best documentary short subject – Period. End of Sentence in 2019).
Another Indian documentary, ‘All That Breathes’, directed by Shaunak Sen, bagged the nomination in the 'Documentary Feature Film' category at this edition of Oscars. It was up against 'All the Beauty and the Bloodshed', 'Fire Of Love,' 'A House made of Splinters,' and 'Navalny'. And the winner was Navalny in this category.
Established in 1929, the Oscars recognise excellence in cinematic achievements across various categories, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Actress, and Best Original Screenplay, among others. The awards are presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), a professional organisation of over 9,000 members working in the film industry.