Being a cricket-driven country, I’ve rarely seen Indians talking more about something else than cricket. However, on the morning of 13th March, two incredible things happened, and the people who were worried about the Indian cricket team’s qualification in the finals of the ICC World Test Championship of 2021-2023 started celebrating those two things like the holiday of Eid and Diwali appeared back to back, that too right before the weekend.
India at Oscars
At the 95th academy awards, three Indian films were nominated, The Elephant Whisperers for Best Documentary (Short Subject), Naatu Naatu from RRR for Best Original Song and All That Breathes for Best Documentary Feature. Out of which, two won the prestigious Oscar – M. M. Keeravani and Chandrabose for the song “Naatu Naatu”, while Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga won the Oscar for The Elephant Whisperers.
The two special moments gave Indians across the globe a reason to rejoice. A day before the Oscar win, Virat Kohli ended his draught of test centuries after 3 long years and getting news of two Oscars added the cherry on the top, turning the Monday blues into happy hues. The 95th Academy Awards was held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and was hosted by comedian and late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.
The film has surpassed almost every record on the Indian belt and flourished brilliantly in other parts of the world too. Since its release, people have been sure the movie will bring at least one Academy Award to the country. The S. S. Rajamouli movie depicts fictional versions of two Indian revolutionaries, Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) and Komaram Bheem (NT Rama Rao Jr), their friendship, and their fight against the British Raj.
The song “Naatu Naatu,” was composed by M.M. Keeravani, and Chandrabose penned the lyrics. Before grabbing the trophy at the Academy Awards ceremony, “Naatu Naatu” defeated Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Rihanna and won a prestigious Golden Globe award for best original song. The movie was released on Netflix a few months after hitting theatres and went on to become one of the most-watched non-English movies.
One of the reasons “Naatu Naatu” became popular throughout the world was endless Instagram reels and dance trends on social media. The quick tempo and synchronised choreography instantly opened the dancing talent of the audiences, especially on YouTube Shorts and Instagram reels. In one of his interviews, the filmmaker said, “The song is a story within the larger story of the film”, and now we know why!
The Elephant Whisperers
When I was in film school, Guneet Monga was one of the guests we had in our special segment, where every week, one guest visited the campus and guided students about the filmmaking process. Back then, she was known for independent films like Rang Rasiya, Shaitan, Peddlers, Gangs of Wasseypur, Monsoon Shootout, The Lunchbox and Masaan, but she wasn’t a known name amongst the Indian crowd.
The Elephant Whisperers is a documentary about the bond between a couple and orphaned baby elephants, Raghu, and Ammu, entrusted to their care. The film portrays how animals love you back when loved and treated well, which might bring a tear or two to your eyes. I know most of you haven’t watched this beautifully shot doc yet, but no worries, you can watch it now; it’s only going to take 40 minutes of your life.
The documentary was directed by Kartiki Gonsalves in her directorial debut and was released by Netflix globally on 8th December 2022 for streaming. The Elephant Whisperers was the first Indian film to win an Academy Award in that category and is one of the most well-shot documentaries I’ve ever seen. I think, along with the Oscars, it also deserves a big-screen release.