by Pia Agrawal (’26) | February 3, 2023
“Naatu Naatu” from the movie RRR (released on March 24, 2022) won the Golden Globe for Best Original Song in early January. RRR was nominated not just for Best Original Song, but also for Best Non-English Language Film. The movie is in Telugu, one of the many languages spoken in India, and is based on two real-life Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitharama Raju (played by Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (played by N.T. Rama Rao Jr.). Set in 1920, the movie tells the story of their friendship and how they overcome their struggles despite the odds being stacked against them. However, according to S.S. Rajamouli, RRR’s director, RRR “is completely fictitious….” In fact, in real life, Alluri Sitharama Raju and Komaram Bheem had no relationship—they never even met. Despite this, the movie’s producers still had to do a lot of research “to know costumes, their [Raju’s and Bheem’s] dialect, their way of living and that is why it took so much time for us to get this together.”
“Naatu Naatu” itself means “Dance Dance”—and the actors danced for full days for nearly two weeks in order to film that single dance scene. In the middle of the movie, Rao says, “Not salsa, not flamenco, my brother. Do you know Naatu?” This iconic line introduces the song, which has since become world-famous. Its choreography went viral on social media—particularly TikTok, where many Americans have enjoyed dancing to the high-energy beat, and Spotify, where the song has surpassed thirty-eight thousand listens.
The choreography of “Naatu Naatu” displays the deep friendship between Raju and Bheem through synchronized dance moves and singing. The song is energetic, the choreography requiring so much stamina that M.M. Keeravani, a National Film Award winner for Best Music Direction and the composer of “Naatu Naatu,” described it as “an action sequence.” About midway through the song, Raju and Bheem’s dance moves transition into a dance fight. Even without the choreography, the song itself is intoxicating and draws the listener in with pulsating beats and catchy lyrics. Chandrabose, the lyricist of “Naatu Naatu,” says that he wrote ninety percent of the song in half a day, but the other ten percent took him nearly two years to complete.
Winning the Golden Globe was a huge accomplishment for South Asian communities. RRR is only the third Indian movie and the first Telugu movie to be nominated for a Golden Globe, and even more significantly, it was the first Asian song to win. Its success increased recognition of India’s film and music industries, and the soundtrack as a whole definitely lives up to Keeravani’s musical reputation, surpassing expectations.
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