Academy Awards for Elephant Whisperers, Naatu Naatu

With two critically acclaimed films, one a documentary and the other a feature film, winning the Oscars this year, Indian films have now again been placed among the best in the world.


By Screen Shot

A beautiful documentary on an orphan, adopted elephant and the adopting ‘parents’, was widely expected to win the Oscar award in this category.

The documentary, which tells the story of a couple who care for an injured baby elephant after it gets separated from its herd, is the first Indian production to bag a win in the category.

Shot in the picturesque Nilgiri mountains in southern India, The Elephant Whisperers explores the warm bond that develops between the human and animal as they begin to coexist.

The Elephant Whisperers is the first Indian film to win an Oscar in this category and the third to be nominated after The House That Ananda Built and An Encounter With Faces which competed for Best Documentary Short in 1969 and 1979, respectively.

While receiving the award, Director Kartiki said in her acceptance speech: “I stand here today to speak for the sacred bond between us and our natural world, for the respect of indigenous communities, and empathy towards other living beings we share space with and finally, for coexistence.”

She then thanked the Academy, the producer of the short, Guneet Monga, and her family before dedicating the win to her “motherland India”.

The Elephant Whisperers depicts an unbreakable bond between two abandoned elephants and their caretakers. It is produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment.

Directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, the 41-minute short follows the family from Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai Tiger Reserve that ends up adopting two orphan baby elephants. What was special about this India short was that it happened to be filmmaker Gonsalves’ directorial debut.

Earlier, she had told the media: “I followed Raghu’s story for five years, and had about 450 hours of footage. There are thousands of Raghu baths in there, so many hours of him eating food or playing. But you need to be patient (with something like this), and you get scenes like the one where Bellie tells Ammu to sit down next to her. These are intimate moments, which cannot be planned.”

Meanwhile, India’s nomination for the Best Documentary Feature, All That Breathes, lost the award to Navalny.

Prime Minister Modi congratulated the award winning film crew. In his second tweet, PM Modi congratulated the ‘Elephant Whispers’ team for the honour.

Natu Naatu

The song Naatu Naatu from the hit Telugu-language film RRR has made history by becoming the first Indian film song to win an Oscar. The blockbuster track won Best Original Song at the 95th Academy Awards, beating heavyweights like Lady Gaga and Rihanna.

Its catchy tempo and choreography has captivated audiences around the world.

Naatu Naatu is a thumping song that has got thousands grooving to its beats. The song already made history in January when it won a Golden Globe for the best original song – a first for India. The same month, it also won the Critics’ Choice award for the best song.

While accepting the Oscar, composer MM Keeravani said the song was “the pride of every Indian”.

He said that he had grown up listening to songs by The Carpenters – an American music duo – and sang the rest of his speech in the tune of their hit song Top Of The World.

The audience burst into laughter and applause as he said that RRR had “put me on the top of the world”.

With this, the film became the first song from any Indian production to win the award. It is the second Indian song to win this prestigious award, after Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire won one in 2009 in the same category.

Bhairava and his co-singer Rahul Sipligunj also performed the song at the ceremony. The pulsating performance received a standing ovation from the audience.

The peppy track – which translates to “Dance, Dance” in Telugu – became a global sensation after the film’s release in the US last year.

Shot in front of the picturesque Mariinskyi Palace in Ukraine, the song features the film’s lead actors – Ram Charan and Jr NTR – performing energetic dance moves.

The film’s director, SS Rajamouli, told Vanity Fair that he envisioned Naatu Naatu as a “fight scene” in which two freedom fighters bring a British officer to his knees – through dance.

RRR – short for Rise, Roar, Revolt – is a historical fantasy that tells the story of two revolutionaries who fight against British rule in India. The dazzling action epic is one of India’s most expensive films. The song itself was shot over 15 days, with 150 dancers and a crew of 200 working 12 hours a day.

The song features beats commonly used in folk songs in India’s Telugu-speaking states, and several folksy references.
RRR garnered several US awards, made it to the BAFTA 2023 long list in the Film Not in the English Language category, won the Golden Globes in the Best Original Song category, and also bagged the Best Song at the 28th edition of the Critics Choice Awards, along with Best Foreign Language Film, among others.

In his tweet, PM Modi said, “Extraordinary! The popularity of ‘Natu Nadu’ is universal. It will be a song that will be remembered for years. Congratulations to MM Karavani, Chandra Bose and the entire team for this prestigious honour. India is proud.”

List of Oscar Award Winners of India

YearRecipients Category Film
1983Bhanu AthaiyaBest Costume DesignGandhi
1992Satyajit RayLifetime Achievement Award
2009Resul PookuttyBest Sound MixingSlumdog Millionaire
2009GulzarBest Original SongSlumdog Millionaire
2009A R RahmanBest Original Score and Best Original SongSlumdog Millionaire
2023Kartiki Gonsalves and
Guneet Monga
Best Documentary (Short Film)The Elephant Whisperers
2023M.M. Keeravani (Music) and Chandrabose (Lyrics)Best Music (Original Song)RRR