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India’s ‘BIG Win’ at the Oscars

While the victory for Best Original Song by "Naatu Naatu" was widely predicted, India created history on Monday when the Indian production "The Elephant Whisperers" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject.

M.M. Keeravaani and Chandrabose, winners of Best Music (Original Song) award for ’RRR’ pose in the press room during the 95th

Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on 12 March 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

On Monday morning, one of Indian cinema's greatest moments of triumph on a worldwide scale occurred when the documentary short The Elephant Whisperers won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short and the song "Naatu Naatu" from the film RRR received the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

RRR (Rise, Roar, Revolt) and The Elephant Whisperers are both films made in India that present tales with strong ties to Indian history and culture. The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, is an endearing documentary about Bomman and Bellie, a couple from a native south Indian community, who adopt two orphaned elephant calves, Raghu and Ammu, and raise them as their own.

RRR, on the other hand, is a great cinematic narrative directed by S. S. Rajamouli that depicts the friendship of two rebels who fought the British in the 1920s. The film is filled with action, adventure, music, and dancing.

After the victory of M.M. Keeravani and Chandrabose's "Naatu Naatu" over other nominees such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga for best original song, "Congratulations India" began trending on Twitter.

This year, Indian cinema has received unprecedented worldwide attention thanks to three Oscar nominations for the films All That Breathes, The Elephant Whisperers, and RRR. The challenge will be to turn this into a more reliable, worldwide success.

Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga, winners of the Best Documentary Short Film award for "The Elephant Whisperers," pose in the

press room during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Ovation Hollywood on March 12, 2023, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images)

Post-victory, Guneet Monga, producer of The Elephant Whisperers, released a statement that echoed the sentiments of every Indian in every part of the globe. It states,
“This is an incredibly powerful and historical moment. We, as two women from India, stood on that global stage, making this historical win. I’m so proud of this film, this moment’... an independent production house from India has made history to be the first ever Indian film by an Indian production to win an Oscar…”

She added, " I’m so grateful to Kartiki, the wonderful visionary that she is... Today I can say, the future for Indian cinema is audacious; the future is here; and not to forget, the future is truly female.”

“Exceptional!” Narendra Modi, the prime minister of India, recently tweeted that "Naatu Naatu" has worldwide appeal.

He also applauded Kartiki Gonsalves, the film's director, and Guneet Monga, the film's producer, for their work in bringing attention to the "importance of sustainable development and living in peace with environment".

Deepika Padukone took the stage to introduce the performance of "Naatu Naatu," led by Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava. She referred to the song as a "banger," and the subsequent performance got everyone in the audience on their feet.

"It is just the beginning... so that the Western world focuses more on Indian music and Asian music, which is long due," said composer MM Keeravaani following 'Naatu Naatu's" win.

“It is a really proud moment to know that we have reached to the Oscars,” rejoiced Ryhea George, a journalist and media professor from Mumbai. She described this win as "momentous," but also highlighted that it was important to remember that “...two of the night's big winners came from genres rarely seen in Bollywood. As a result, the industry as a whole would do well to learn from the other film industries in India and incorporate their best practices into Bollywood's standard fare.”

Divya Kharnare, an independent filmmaker from India, told Breakthrough Press, "It is a tremendous victory for India; as a filmmaker, this win pushes us to do our work with the best potential and make the nation proud."

Kharnare also shared his optimism that India would see a rise in the number of people interested in documentaries and short films as a result of the success.


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