India’s entry into the elite club of Oscar can be summed up as ‘better late than never’ for the biggest film industry in terms of the number of films produced in India. Indian movies deserved the recognition for a long time, but some always missed the grab. Despite the industry’s worldwide reputation for musicals, the song has never been nominated for an Academy Award for best original song. A.R. Rahman won for both song and score for “Slumdog Millionaire” fifteen years ago, but that was a British production directed by Danny Boyle. “RRR” is a home-grown hit from South India’s Telugu-language film industry, also known as Tollywood. The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, became the first Indian production to win the Oscar for Best Documentary Short. RRR, directed by S.S. Rajamouli, became the first Indian feature film to win an Oscar when its catchy ‘Naatu Naatu’ song won for Best Original Song (music composer M.M. Keeravani and lyricist Chandrabose).
The awards for RRR and The Elephant Whisperers represent a new recognition in the West of India’s full range of cinema, an acknowledgment that there is more to Indian films than Bollywood. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India is proud and elated that ‘Naatu Naatu’ won an Oscar, and that the song will be remembered for years to come. He also congratulated the entire team of the Tamil documentary The Elephant Whisperers on becoming the first Indian production to win the Documentary Short Subject category at the 95th Academy Awards.
The marathon dance-off that ensued enthralled hundreds of millions of YouTube viewers and millions of moviegoers.
A giddy sense of competition contributes to the scene’s energy. Rajamouli envisioned “Naatu Naatu” as a fight sequence, with fiery steps instead of punches, between the dynamic Indian duo and the pompous colonialists. Bheem and Ram dance their hearts out in front of admiring British ladies, infuriating the bully, Jake (Eduard Buhac), into some laughably angry dancing.
On the international stage, India is now competing with foreign films. We used to enjoy the content produced in foreign films. We used to admire their good stories, music, and action films, but now in modern India, our films are making waves on the international stage. Let us hope that in the new India, all directors, producers, and writers compete to produce more quality content and represent India on the international stage. India has chartered a long journey and the Indians have proved their mettle in the world of competition in all spheres of life. Every generation of ours has set the benchmark and the successive generations and chased those and set new ones. The achievements infuse Indians with a sense of pride. Keep it up India!