Bollywood star Deepika Padukone was on hand at the Oscars on Sunday to introduce the performance of best original song nominee (and later winner) “Naatu Naatu,” from “RRR.”
In presenting the song, she noted its anti-colonialist themes — but it’s also “a total banger,” she said.
The “Naatu Naatu” performance featured playback singers Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj flanking a squadron of high-energy dancers. The film’s lead actors, N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan, did not perform.
While Padukone is best known for her Hindi-language films, she got her start in South Indian cinema — her first movie was the Kannada-language “Aishwarya.” Already a global celebrity, the 37-year-old has had a major year outside of India. She also served on the jury at the 75th Cannes Film Festival last May and walked out the World Cup trophy alongside former Spain keeper Iker Casillas at the final in Qatar.
She most recently starred opposite Indian superstar Shah Rukh Khan in the hit “Pathaan,” which brought in $5.9 million at the North American box office alone in its first weekend.
'Naatu Naatu' wins big:
M.M. Keeravaani has brought the spotlight back to India after an Oscar musical win.
Keeravaani won best original song for his joyously energetic anthem “Naatu Naatu” from the film “RRR.” The music was written by Keeravaani and lyrics by Chandrabose.
Keeravaani delighted the Oscar audience by saying he grew up listening to The Carpenters and then began singing the band's “Top of the World” with new lyrics, including “'RRR' has to win/Pride of every Indian.”
“Naatu Naatu” is one of the most memorable sequences from the the Telegu-language action epic “RRR” with its catchy tune and accompanying dance by actors Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr.
“Naatu Naatu” has become a viral sensation outside of the film, racking up more than 122 million views on YouTube and inspiring a TikTok challenge where users attempt to recreate the acrobatic dance-off. South Korean Ambassador Chang Jae-bok’s rendition went viral.
In a recent interview, Keeravaani said he felt compelled to use the Oscars’ platform to highlight other artists from India.
“It’s important so that more and more music and talented artists from my country can have a chance to get this kind of recognition, so that the world embraces India music more than ever,” he said.
Other best original song nominees were Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up,” a song she collaborated on with Tems, director Ryan Coogler and composer Ludwig Goransson; Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” with BloodPop,” Diane Warren’s “Tell It Like a Woman” and “This is a Life” from “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” The latter track was created by Mitski, David Byrne and Ryan Lott, who along with his band Son Lux was also nominated for best original score.