February 8, 2023

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Oscars: ‘RRR’ song ‘Natu Natu’ is the first from an Indian film to land nom

5 min read

The song “Natu Natu” from the global crossover hit film “RRR” clearly made the Academy members put on their dancing shoes, as the tune became the first number from an entirely homegrown Indian film that was nominated for Best Original Song at the Oscars on Tuesday. the morning

The infectiousness of the large-scale production number that hosted the song in the film made “Natu Natu” a favorite to make the final five in this week’s Academy Awards nominations, after it earlier made the music category’s shortlist of 15 eligible numbers. It gained further visibility when it won the Best Song award at the Golden Globes on 10 January, with MM Kiravani — composer of the film’s score and co-composer of many of its songs — arriving from India to accept the trophy.

If “Natu Natu” wins, it will not be the first tune written by an Indian lyricist to bag an Oscar. It first happened at the 2019 Oscars, when “Joy Ho” from the film “Slumdog Millionaire” (that year’s Best Picture winner) won, with composer AR Rahman a double winner as he also won Best Score. But “Slumdog” was a British production, despite its Indian setting.

Rahman himself was rooting on “RRR” and its signature song, tweeting that the Globes win was “incredible” and a “paradigm shift”.

“Natu Natu” is a big part of why American audiences took an interest in “RRR” in the first place, with a short clip of the song and the “hook step” dance performed by the film’s highly charismatic leads Ram Charan and NT Rama Rao Jr., which is the film in the US. Released a few months before its release, it became a TikTok phenomenon. When the film finally reached American screens and audiences got to see the full four-minute number, few were disappointed, even if the entire production wasn’t so easily replicated.

When there was a screening of “RRR” at the TCL Chinese Theater the night before the Golden Globes, sponsored by the American Cinematheque and Beyond Fest — where at least a few Academy voters were in attendance — dozens of attendees took to the floor in front of the giant “Natu Natu” for four exhilarating minutes. IMAX screen to dance with.

“It is true that I have composed music for the film ‘RRR’, but the best music I have heard today is your laughter and applause,” Kiravani told the crowd after the China screening. “I want to hear that music over and over and over and over again.”

A diversity The story behind the making of “Natu Natu”, Kiravani (whose music is accompanied by songs by Chandrabose) and director SS Rajamouli talk about the role of the light-hearted song in an otherwise often exciting and action-packed crowd-pleaser.

“I never imagined there would be this kind of response to this song, not even in my wildest dreams,” Kiravani said. “But as a paradoxical statement, it’s a dream come true.” The composer is getting this American attention after composing scores and songs for 420 Indian films over the last 33 years.

“When I conceived the song ‘Natu Natu’,” said director SS Rajamouli, “although both of them (actors) are great dancers, I didn’t want the steps to be so complicated that people can’t do it. It should be like any two people – be Be it friends, mother and daughter, father and son, two brothers or two sisters – look at it and think, ‘Let’s try it.’ And they did; millions and millions of people were trying to do the steps and posting on it. When we released the song it became such a big event and it obviously increased public interest in the film.”

Kiravani says the beat has a lot to do with popularity — even though it’s so fast that, like a videography of a hummingbird’s wing, you almost have to slow down to recognize it. “The beat is 6/8 – it’s not heard very often from the West, but more often from India and sometimes from countries like Africa and the like,” says the composer. “Specifically, it is even a South Indian type of beat, not so much North Indian. And in ‘Natu Natu’ this beat took another level and another level of BPM (Beats Per Minute) which is rarely heard in the West. So that’s what initially caught the attention of Western audiences.” He also hinted at his singers: “I chose Rahul Sipliganj and Kala Bhairav ​​to do justice to this tune and they gave their best. That’s why the song is what it is now.”

Rajamouli said that before he set his constant musical collaborator to work on it, he was confused about how he would fit the upbeat song he envisioned into a movie that, for all its classic Hollywood action bravura, has such serious cultural context. , dealing with colonizers’ brutality in India’s earlier era. “It would be easy for any other film, but here, even though it is a fictional account, I am telling the audience that these two men are basically real freedom fighters. But luckily, I saw it mainly as an action sequence, not a dance sequence and turned it into a competition. By the time the song starts, we already want Rama to do something to defeat those (British bad) guys,” and taking on their friend in a dance competition is a mild foreshadowing of the more intense fight to come. “So I think that’s the biggest takeaway for me. is to incorporate how the song comes into the film without breaking the narrative. Because it’s a film that deals with a lot of brutality, and so you have to be careful about how you present the more trivial moments.”

Kiravani said: “The song ‘Natu Natu’ makes you forget everything — and not just the audience watching the movie, but also the characters in the story to forget everything happening around them and pay their full due. Focus on the music. And the coda, the last part of the song, consists of so much endurance, you can’t just call it a song – it’s is An action sequence.”

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