With “Natu Natu” winning the Oscar for Best Original Song and “The Elephant Whisperers” bringing home the prize for Best Documentary Short Film, India made Oscar history in 2023.
The singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava’s performance on “Naatu Naatu” made the live audience groove to its upbeat music while India shined brightly at the 95th Academy Awards. And to add to the occasion’s significance, it was none other than Deepika Padukone who welcomed the group to the stage before their performance. When she danced to the music, Lauren Gottlieb infused the scene with color.
The audience simply cheered the loudest at Rahul and Kaala Bhairava’s duet. The vocal duos received thunderous applause from the crowd, which also included the composer MM Keeravaani and the actors’ Ram Charan and NTR Jr.
Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava sang the Telugu version of MM Keeravani’s original Naatu Naatu for RRR. Chandrabose wrote the song’s lyrics. The song was filmed at the Mariinskyi Palace in Kyiv, Ukraine, in August 2021. It shows off the pride of the local pulsating beats to the British officials through a dance-off between the lead characters Ramaraju (Ram Charan), Bheem (NTR Jr.), and the supporting role Edward (Edward Sonnenblick).
The 95th Academy Awards’ Best Documentary Short award went to The Elephant Whisperers, a Netflix documentary short film by Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga. The film faced off against Haulout, How Do You Measure a Year?, Stranger at the Gate, and The Martha Mitchell Effect. The award was dedicated to Motherland India as said by Director Gonsalves. Guneet stated in an Instagram post that it was historic as it became the first-ever Oscar for an Indian production.
The 41-minute short, which was produced by Achin Jain and Guneet Monga and directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, centers on a family from Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve who end up adopting two orphan baby elephants. This short film with an Indian subject was significant since it was directed by Gonsalves for the first time.
Gonsalves previously discussed the making of the film in an interview. She said that she followed Raghu’s tale for five years and had roughly 450 hours of footage. There are countless Raghu baths there, as well as countless hours of him playing or eating. There are scenes like the one where Bellie tells Ammu to sit down next to her, but one needs to be patient (with something like this). They are private moments that cannot be anticipated.
After the short’s publication, Kartiki remarked on the affection that she had received, and she mentioned that she had heard from many people that it accurately captured the dignity of both the beautiful elephants and the Indigenous people who have coexisted with them for centuries.
For Best Original Song (RRR’s “Naatu Naatu”), Best Documentary Feature Film (Shaunak Sen’s All That Breathes), and Best Documentary Short (Kartiki Gonsalves-directed The Elephant Whisperers), India received a total of three Oscar nominations this year.