Hyderabad: When ‘Naatu Naatu’ bagged the Oscar to become the first Indian and Asian song to receive the coveted award, the ‘RRR’ team led by director S.S. Rajamouli basked in the glory of the moment. But now it seems it came at a significant cost.
Being nominees, music composer M.M. Keeravani (and wife Srivalli) and lyricist Chandrabose were entitled to free seating at their allotted table, along with singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava, who performed on state, but other members of ‘RRR’ team present at the 95th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 13 had to buy tickets to attend the event. And the tickets came for $25,000 (Rs 20.6 lakh) apiece.
Rajamouli with wife Rama, son Karthikeya and daughter-in-law, NTR Jr, who came sans wife Pranathi, Ram Charan and his wife Upasana Kamineni, and choreographer Prem Rakshith were presence for the historic moment along with Keeravani, Chandrabose and the singers.
That the ‘RRR’ team members had to buy tickets to the 95th Academy Awards came as a shock to Indian fans, who were already upset that Rajamouli and others were seated at the rear, close to the exit, during the ceremony. They took to social media to register their displeasure.
Though the viral heel-tapping hit created history by winning the prestigious award, the on-stage performance of the song during the ceremony without any dancer of Indian descent has also sparked a row.
Dancers of South Asian origin were outraged that Billy Mustapha and Jason Glover, both Americans but not of South Asian descent, had replaced Junior NTR and Ram Charan, while choreographers Napoleon and Tabitha adapted Rakshith’s original choreography.
Junior NTR and Ram Charan were expected to perform on stage, but reportedly backed out due to multiple reasons. They did not feel comfortable recreating the dance on the stage. Some reports attribute this to the other professional commitments of the actors and the limited time they had to rehearse.
‘Naatu Naatu’ won the coveted award beating ‘Applause’ from ‘Tell It Like a Woman’ (from the segment ‘Sharing A Ride’ by Leela Yadav), which, incidentally, featured Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandes; Lady Gaga’s ‘Hold My Hand’ (‘Top Gun: Maverick’), Rihanna’s ‘Lift Me Up’ (‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’) and ‘This Is A Life’ by Son Lux, Mitski and David Byrne (‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’).