India has made movie history by scooping its first Oscar for the best original song, “Naatu Naatu.”
Praised for its buoyant choreography and catchy tune, the song, which has already won a Golden Globe award, is from the movie “RRR,” a Telugu-language drama set during India’s struggle for independence from Britain.
At the 95th Academy Awards on Sunday night, “Naatu Naatu” – composed by M.M. Keeravani and featuring lyrics by Chandrabose – beat both Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick,” and Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Accepting the award, Keeravani said: “I grew up listening to The Carpenters and now here I am with the Oscars,” before going on to sing his speech to the tune of “Top of the World” by The Carpenters. Chandrabose simply added: “Namaste.”
Earlier in the evening, singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava performed “Naatu Naatu” as dancers recreated a famously energetic scene from the film that has inspired countless memes.
Bollywood star Deepika Padukone, who introduced the performance, called the song “a total banger.”
Reacting to the win on Twitter, the movie’s star Ram Charan wrote: “We have won!! We have won as Indian Cinema!! We won as a country!! The Oscar Award is coming home!”
In a longer statement released on the platform, Charan described the movie as a “masterpiece” and the song as “an emotion across the globe.”
An Indian composer had previously won the Oscar for best original song with “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire,” but that film was a predominantly British production.
In contrast, “RRR” is an Indian production through and through – and a showcase for Tollywood, one of India’s non-Bollywood film industries that focuses primarily on Telegu language productions instead of Hindi films.
Following the win, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is global. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come.”
“India is elated and proud,” Modi added.
The team behind the film took to Twitter to celebrate.
“No words can describe this surreal moment. Dedicating this to all our amazing fans across the world. Thank you!! Jai Hind,” they wrote, using a popular rallying cry which means “Victory to India.”
The Indian film industry produces tens of thousands of movies every year in multiple languages, and “RRR,” which stands for Rise, Roar, Revolt, is the country’s fourth-highest grossing picture, according to IMDB, earning nearly $155 million worldwide.
The three-hour historical fantasy film features wild action sequences, explosions, epic battles, complex dance numbers and a man wrestling a tiger.
A clip from the movie featuring Telugu superstars Charan and N. T. Rama Rao Jr., known as Jr NTR, dancing in perfect synchronization to the lyrics has more than 125 million views on YouTube.