Newly Oscar-nominated composer M.M. Keeravani can now put on his dancing shoes after securing a spot in Best Original Song for his popular song “Naatu Naatu” from the Indian action-comedy film RRR. In speaking with Deadline on Tuesday about his nomination, Keeravani revealed that he was working—and definitely not dancing—at his recording studio on an upcoming film when he asked the director to put a momentary pause on their activities. And it was for good reason.
Keeravani’s Best Original Song nomination makes history at the 95th Academy Awards for being the first song from an Indian Film production to land in that category. (Not to be confused with Indian songwriter-composer A.R. Rahman’s 2009 Oscar win for “Jai Ho” in the British production Slumdog Millionaire.)
“It feels great,” Keeravani said about his historic precedent. “My feelings about the Oscars is the best, because it involves the dreams of artists from all over the world; which is not a joke. It takes a great deal of effort and credibility. That’s why the Oscars is the Oscars. That’s why we respect and value it very much. And I’m very proud to be nominated for the first time from [South] Asia in this music category. I’m thrilled.”
The track dominating the likes of TikTok users notwithstanding, “Naatu Naatu” is a critically acclaimed hit amongst not only members of the Academy, but also the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards where the song took home awards for its nominated categories. What did it mean to have his song continuously climbing the ranks in both pop-culture and cinematic history?
“For me, ‘Naatu Naatu’ means the world.” Keeravani explained jokingly. “It was just a song when it was born, when I saw my song on the screen after the [scene] was done with the choreography, I said, ‘Oh my God! This is my son.’ This was my infant son and now my son became big. He became a major [player]. Now he’s driving cards, he’s dancing, and he has a girlfriend. Yesterday, he was an infant in my cradle. And now my son is going places and bagging a good name for me. I’m like a proud father. I’m very grateful for this brainchild. And for all the people who made this big wave possible.”
The 95th Academy Awards are set to take place at the Dolby Theatre on March 12.