HomeUS News updateOscar-nominated song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’ sparks global excitement over Indian cinema

Oscar-nominated song ‘Naatu Naatu’ from ‘RRR’ sparks global excitement over Indian cinema

At Sunday’s Academy Awards show, many South Asian viewers will be eagerly awaiting “Naatu Naatu”, the musical sequence from the blockbuster film “RRR”, being performed at both the ceremony and the chance to win Best Original Song. favorite for.

After winning the Golden Globes, this weekend’s acceptance of “Naatu Naatu” will be one of the first recognition of a film from the subcontinent on the Oscars stage, experts said. It will be a seminal moment for Indians around the world, representing a changing tide in how the West views their cinema.

Sangeeta Gopal, associate professor of English at the University of Oregon, who studies Indian cinema, said: “For decades, Western film lovers have treated Indian films as nothing more than song, dance and melodrama.”

“The one factor that made Indian cinema exceptionally bad before is now exceptionally good,” he said.

On top of that, Indian film industries haven’t bothered to perfect their craft in a western way anyway.

“Indian cinema is made for an Indian audience,” he said. “This is true [director S.S. Rajamouli], Very. I don’t think he was thinking, ‘I’m going to make a crossover movie.’ He was like, ‘I’ll just keep doing what I’ve done successfully.’

But the overwhelming love for “natu natu” and “rrr” may mean American tastes are changing, she said. Unlike the song-and-dance numbers of its predecessors, “Naatu Naatu” seemed to strike a chord. Gopal said that apart from being an earworm, it does not hinder the story of the film but takes it forward.

He added, “Even within Indian cinema, song and dance scenes are basically disappearing.” “RRR” features a traditional song-and-dance sequence, but is less conventionally used. It’s a very integrated song within the story. And it helps build acceptance.

That said, the global enthusiasm about Indian films is no longer limited to the diaspora, and in a way, ‘RRR’ was all set to take off. “RRR” came at the right time for audiences, Gopal said, and it entered the American zeitgeist at a very specific cultural moment.

The anti-colonial tale of two freedom fighters raising slogans against the British Raj dovetails perfectly with the conversations about racism, imperialism and the establishment that have flourished in the Western world over the last few years.

“There’s an anti-Semitic mood that the film was able to tap into,” she said. “Even though Indian critics, including myself, have rightly seen the film’s potential to be problematic, from the point of view of an audience member who is not really exposed to caste politics or Hindu nationalist ideologies, it can be used to fight colonialism.” There’s a movie about.”

MM Keeravani accepts the award for Best Original Song "grandson grandson" From "RRR" on stage during the 80th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton on January 10, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California.
MM Keeravani accepts the award for Best Original Song for “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” at the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, California on January 10.Rich Polk / NBC

Unlike the villains in films coming from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which feature similar fictional fight scenes and good-versus-evil conflicts, the villains and heroes of “RRR” are real and concrete.

“Even though it’s very historical and fictional and mythical, these two people were real, and the British colonized India,” she said. “It has that kind of historical realism.”

When it was originally released early last year, American audiences had already developed a taste for large-scale international productions, with hit shows like “Squid Game,” which made reading subtitles a breeze. Things were provoking them, Gopal said.

But some Indian viewers say they can recognize casteism and Hindu nationalism playing out beneath the film’s surface spectacle. For Gopal, the story portrays its caste-oppressed characters as vulnerable and in need of a dominant caste hero to rescue them. Furthermore, the Muslim characters are all but absent, even though they were heavily involved in India’s fight for independence.

“It’s very clear that there is a hierarchy at work,” Gopal said.

Writer and director Rajamouli did not respond to a request for comment. He has previously stated that there is no ideological bent for “RRR”. At a Q&A session at the film’s screening in Los Angeles, he talked about the representation of Hinduism in the story.

“In the film, what I’m portraying is actually a way of life that has existed for many centuries or eras,” he said.

“RRR” marks to many the solidification of Tollywood – the South Indian Telugu-language film industry – as a global force. Rini Bhattacharya Mehta, associate professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said Telugu cinema has exploded in popularity, especially in the past decade.

“RRR” largely came on the tail of 2015’s “Baahubali”, another Telugu epic directed by Rajamouli. Now with “RRR”, experts see a shift in the subcontinent, where South Indian films are rising to make up for what many are missing in Bollywood, which refers to the Mumbai-based Hindi language film industry.

Bhattacharya Mehta said, “Bollywood has melodrama, and then Telugu cinema took it to another level.”

For South Indian audiences who rarely see themselves represented in films coming out of Mumbai, such films may be itching for representation, he said – they present “a distinctly South Indian aesthetic”.

Gopal said the nomination of “Naatu Naatu” represents the next step in Indian cinema’s international presence, but he feels left out when it comes to foreign blockbusters being recognized by the Academy or nominated as films themselves. that it’s too far away.

“‘RRR’ brings together so many streams of global cinema,” she said, “from Hollywood to Hong Kong action, even the earlier Bollywood style of the populist hero. In some ways, it Represents a compilation of both national film history and global trends.



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