SS Rajamouli’s film RRR is a force to be reckoned with. It has not only enthralled the Indian audience but has managed to garner massive international acclaim. More emphatically, RRR’s chart-bursting song, ‘Naatu Naatu’ has managed to enrapture the audience like no other.
On 11 January (10 January US time), it won the Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Original Song’, beating names like Taylor Swift and Rihanna. The song has also been nominated for the Oscars in the Best Original Song category.
Although AR Rahman’s ‘Jai Ho’ did manage to win the Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire the film was made by an English director, Danny Boyle, and it arguably did not emerge out of Indian film culture. 'Naatu Naatu' and the film alike, no doubt, have opened doors for Indian cinema on a global platform.
What are some of the interesting facts that stand out about the rip-roaring, heavily choreographed dance number that makes it such a crowd-pleaser that you can’t help but bob your head to it no matter where in the world you might be? Let’s take a look.
The choreography is simple
Rajamouli, in his interview with Variety, maintained that he didn’t want the choreography to be overly complicated. He wanted his audience to have the opportunity to at least try grooving to its energetic beats. And he successfully managed to do just that. Millions of TikTok users from all across the globe attempted the choreography spinning their version onto it.
“I didn’t want the steps to be so complicated that people can’t do it. It should be like any two people — whether it be friends, mother and daughter, father and son, two brothers or two sisters — would see it and feel like, ‘Let’s try this.’ And they did; millions and millions of people were trying to do the steps and posting on it. It became such a big phenomenon when we released the song, and it clearly (increased) public interest in the film.”SS Rajamouli, Director
The location – the song was shot in Ukraine
Not many people know, but the infectious, high-octane song was shot outside President Zelensky’s residence in Ukraine. And the location definitely added to the overall energy of the song.
In an interview with Sandeep Reddy Vanga, the director said, “ We shot the 'Naatu Naatu' song in Ukraine. It is a real location. It is the Ukrainian President’s palace. There is a parliament right beside the palace. Luckily, they gave us permission to shoot because the Ukrainian president was a television actor.”
Synchronisation is key
Jr NTR and during the recent screening and reception for their film at the Directors Guild of America Theatre, also openly spoke about the importance of the two actors being in sync for the song. Jr NTR during the talk stated, “We’ve done complicated steps, but Naatu Naatu is not about the steps being complicated, it was the synchronisation, which Rajamouli stressed on.”
Reportedly, there were almost 80 variations to the hook step of the song and the director would freeze frames to check how much the actors were in sync.
MM Keeravani’s beats are the soul of the song
MM Keeravani is a frequent collaborator of SS Rajamouli’s – working with him on every single one of his films, even the highly successful Bahubali. Keeravani shot to fame with the 1990's film Manasu Mamatha – predominantly working in the Telugu industry, his work has also featured in Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Hindi industries. He has won the National Award for his film Annamayya.
So what is so outstanding about the beats of Keeravani’s latest Award-winning song? To be fair, according to him, it’s the fact that the beats are “not very frequently heard from the West”.
In an interview with Variety, he states, “The beat is 6/8 — that’s not very frequently heard from the West, but more frequently heard from India and sometimes from Africa and countries like that.”
Adding, “And in ‘Naatu Naatu,’ this beat took another dimension and another level of BPM (beats per minute) which is very rarely heard in the West.”
Check out Keeravai's speech after winning the prestigious award:
A visual spectacle – an action sequence
In the same interview with Variety, Keeravani argued that ‘Naatu Naatu’ works because of the visuals that go along with it. He states that otherwise ‘Janani’ would be his favourite. On the other end, Rajamouli maintained that the sequence was important for the narrative continuity of the film, as both the leads are real freedom fighters, highlighting that he saw the choreography as an elongated action sequence that added to the larger scope of the film - not merely something “frivolous" - but the right balance of fun and serious.