March 13 (IndieWire) – Indian film “RRR” got its well-deserved moment in the Oscar spotlight on Sunday night when M.M. Keeravani’s song “Naatu Naatu” received the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
The energetic musical number became a viral hit thanks to the electric duet performance from Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr, and excitement around the song only grew as the film slowly built a following out of streaming audiences from around the globe.
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The award marks the culmination of “RRR” director S.S. Rajamouli’s long working relationship with Keeravani. Speaking to IndieWire, Rajamouli recalled the way that his relationship with his longtime composer made it easy to discuss the narrative context in which the song takes place to deliver a more impactful musical number.
“Bheem is being humiliated, he’s an innocent guy,” Rajamouli said. “He’s a great dancer, but he’s in a completely unfamiliar world. So, when Ram comes and helps him, I want the audience to feel their anger. They can’t fight because of the situation that they’re in, but I’m bringing this song which is supposed to give me the satisfaction of a fight. [Keeravani and I] had a lot of discussion on that.”
“RRR” was an immediate hit with audiences and critics when it opened in theaters in India, and quickly became an international phenomenon when it began streaming on Netflix last year.
“S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ is a dazzling work of historical fiction — emphasis on the ‘fiction’ — that makes the moving image feel intimate and enormous all at once,” Siddhant Adlakha wrote in his IndieWire review. “A pulsating period action drama, it outshines even the director’s record-smashing ‘Baahubali’ movies (viewers familiar with them probably won’t know what to expect here) thanks to its mix of naked sincerity, unapologetic machismo, and balls-to-the-wall action craftsmanship. The film is playing on over a thousand screens in North America, and watching it with a packed audience familiar with Telugu-language cinema is likely to yield one of the noisiest and most raucous theatrical experiences imaginable. Plenty of recent releases have been hailed as ‘the return of cinema’ post-pandemic, but ‘RRR’ stands apart as an unabashed return to everything that makes the cinematic experience great, all at once.”
Part of the film’s overwhelming success can be attributed to the way it blended action and musical numbers in a way that was unfamiliar to most Western audiences. In a separate interview with IndieWire’s Eric Kohn, Rajamouli spoke about his love of dazzling audiences with spectacle-driven cinema.
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