Rama Krishna Sangem
“Naatu, Naatu” Telugu song from “RRR” (2022) movie reverberated not just in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, but across India early hours on March 13. But, that is March 12, Sunday, the time of presentation of 95th Oscar awards by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences at Dobly Theater in Santa Clara, California, in the US. This is the first time a Telugu movie got this prestigious award, dream of any filmmaker across the globe.
Director SS Rajamouli is the one person behind this honour, though couldn’t personally receive the statuette, most recognizable trophy in the world. As lyricist Chandra Bose and as music director MM Keeravani went up the podium and held it in awe and admiration. Entire RRR team, present there, led by Rajamouli danced in joy, unable to control their emotions.
Right from PM Modi, to CMs KCR and Jagan, and most states and several celebrities and persons from different fields joined the celebrations back in India. Many termed it as an honour to Tollywood, while others called it a jubilation for Indian films and others described it as moment of victory for South Asian cinema. After 2008 Oscars for Danny Boyle’s “Slumdog Millionaire” India is eagerly waiting for an Oscar. We got it now in Original Song category.
Rajamouli’s grit and belief
We must understand under what circumstances RRR went to Oscars and won this award. India’s official entry for Oscars this year is not RRR, but Chello Show, a Gujarati movie. This entry is selected by FFI (Film Federation of India)’s 14 member jury. There is criticism that this jury members have no big cinema background or standing. Usually, Rajamouli should have put up with this slight. But, he is Rajamouli, didn’t give up his pursuit of Oscars.
Right from December on he and his team camped in California and submitted it as an independent entry. First, RRR got best director award at New York Film Critics Circle awards that month. This award is considered as a passport to Oscars. Because, these film critics are most valued by Oscars jury – that is voters. Rajamouli expected RRR to run for best foregin film award, but Oscars jury shorted listed it for Original song category for “Naatu, Naatu”.
9,847 voters in Oscars Jury
Oscar awards are selected by its members with voting rights – now estimated to be 9,847 of them. Till a few years ago, the number was just 6,000 but subsequently it went up. Of them, 80 per cent are whites, and 75 per cent male, with an average age of 62 years. Of late, Oscars admitted colour people with minorities status and females too. They are divided into 22 or 23 categories – directors, actors, writers, technicians etc and select the winners.
There is some criticism in Telugu film industry or for that matter in Bollywood too. That Rajamouli had spent around Rs 80 crore for promoting this movie- RRR. We don’t know the actual figure, but Oscar campaigns generally need some money. Healthy, professional way of promotion of a film among the jury members is allowed. We must remember, Oscars discourages unhealthy or unfair ways of lobbying.
Rajamouli, Keeravai and Chandra Bose are now eligible to become members of Oscar voters. Because, all winners are eligible for this honour, for a period of 10 years, which can be extended. Rajamouli will be certainly on the New York film critics club circle as he earned a lot many fans over there. We have seen, how Ram Charan and NTR won the hearts of scores of Hollywood film personalities.
Rajamouli is known for pushing his own boundaries. He is passionate about films and film making. So, we can expect him to make a debut into Hollywood or make an India cinema with global scale. That is possible, because, he knows the art of film making as well as promoting it, enough to fetch money to producers. Will it be his dream project Mahabharat or any other movie before that, is still to be watched.