“Not salsa, not flamingo, my brother…do you know Naatu?” That million-dollar question of Alluri Sitharama Raju to British officer Jake led to the beginning of the Naatu Naatu song in 'RRR'. That is also the idea that this song which won the Academy Award for Best original song puts forward: The world is yet to experience the real local music of India. It is a beautiful blend of Keeravani’s music, Chandra Bose’s lyrics, SS Rajamouli’s direction, and Prem Rakshit’s choreography. Can’t think of another Indian song that was celebrated globally like ‘Naatu Naatu.’ It was after trending on YouTube dance covers, Instagram reels, and Tik Tok that it won the golden globe and Oscars.
But there is one thing that Indian music directors are asking in unison. Keeravani has composed so many beautiful songs before. So many superhits in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. The songs he composed for ‘Suryamanasam’ (‘Tharalitharavil’) and ‘Devaragam’ (‘Shishirakaala’) are such stunning pieces. By that standard, isn’t ‘Naatu Naatu’ just an ordinary composition? Then how did it bag an Oscar? The same question came up when AR Rahman won the Oscar for ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’
Why Naatu Naatu?
Rajamouli has already given an explanation for this question. Just like a film’s story ‘Naau Naatu’ also has a beginning, middle, and end. This song has been composed like a full-length feature film. The song placement is equal or can be compared to having a stunt sequence between the hero and the villain.
The tune, lyrics, and choreography capture the feisty and energetic competition between the three characters in the film. This single song embodies the excitement and energy of the film. That’s the specialty of the song, ‘Naatu Naatu.’
Also, the fact that the song was able to breach the language border made it all the more easier. Though we always regarded Indian classical music highly, it is not necessary that it has an audience across the globe. Such a song might not find acceptance in Africa or Latin America. But 'Naatu Naatu' which had a very local Indian flavour didn’t have such constraints. Though the sounds and words of the song were foreign to them, the world loved it. That’s how it got Oscar recognition.
Finally reaching the Oscars
There are three stages of voting in the Original song category to eventually win the Oscar. They usually consider a film song for the Original song category. And that will be the most important song of the film. You should submit a 3-minute video explaining how you have presented the song in the film. They should also submit a detailed report giving a vocal lead sheet, the technicians who worked on this song, and if there was more than one lyricist, give details about each of their participation and how many lines they wrote.
Through a voting poll by the Oscar music panel, they will pick 15 nominations during the first round. And pick 5 songs through second-round voting. The best original song winner is voted by the Academy’s lifelong members and active members.
The specialty of the song is its simplicity which connected to people all over the world. And the second crucial aspect is that the producers and director decided to submit it for the Oscars and the Golden Globe and also finished the process of submission correctly. ‘Naatu Naatu’ offers infinite possibilities to Indian cinema. If we plan well and send our submissions correctly, we will have many Oscars coming home.