A documentary (“The Elephant Whisperers”, Tamil) and a Telugu film song (“Naatu Naatu” from “RRR”) of contrasting styles and temperament, but united by a common Made in India stamp, created history Sunday evening in America and left India gushing and rejoicing all Monday.
At the glitz glam 95th Oscar awards, producer Guneet Monga and director Kartiki Gonsalves’s “The Elephant Whisperers” was declared winner in the documentary short film category. India’s delight doubled as composer M M Keeravaani and lyricist Chandrabose received the coveted statuette in the original song category for the infectious “Naatu Naatu”. Keeravaani, better known as M M Kreem, rephrased The Carpenter’s evergreen hit, “Top of the World”, while receiving the award to describe his state of mind.
Indians have won Oscars in the past. But they were not in home productions. A R Rahman, Gulzar, Resul Pookutty were winners in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. Bhanu Athaiya’s Oscar came for best costume design in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi; NFDC was one of the investors in the film though. Satyajit Ray had received an honorary Oscar for his “rare mastery of the art of motion pictures”.
On Monday, Delhi-based film director Shaunak Sen’s “All That Breathes” lost out to “Navalny” in the documentary feature category. The prize-winning film is based on the life of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Actor Deepika Padukone received plaudits for the way she introduced “Naatu Naatu”: with poise and relish. Padukone described the song as one with “irresistibly catchy chorus, electrifying beats and killer dance moves”.
PM Narendra Modi congratulated the winners. Referring to the makers of “The Elephant Whisperers”, he tweeted, “Their work wonderfully highlights the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature.” In another post, he congratulated Kreem and Chandrabose. “The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu’ is global. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come… India is elated and proud,” Modi said.
The interdimensional “Everything Everywhere All at Once” swept the Oscars with seven statuettes, including best picture. Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian woman to be recognised as best actress.