India at Oscars 2023: Two Historic Wins and a Glorious Deepika Padukone

The blockbuster song "Naatu Naatu" and short documentary The Elephant Whisperers bring home Oscars for India
India at Oscars 2023: Two Historic Wins and a Glorious Deepika Padukone

History was made at the 95th Oscar awards when “Naatu Naatu” became the first song from an Indian production to win the Oscar for Best Original Song. Before that, The Elephant Whisperers, produced by Guneet Monga’s Sikhya Entertainment, became the first Indian production to win the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Film. Here are moments from Oscar 2023 that will live rent-free in desi memories. 

Top of the World with M.M. Keeravani

“Naatu Naatu” became the first song from an Indian production to not just be nominated in the Best Original Song category, but it also won the Oscar. While the live performance couldn’t match the electric pace of the film version — Ram Charan and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. display superhuman energy and stamina in RRR (2022) — you had to be moved when lyricist Chandrabose and composer M.M. Keeravani came up to accept their award. Keeravani said he’d grown up listening to The Carpenters and then sang a few lines from their hit song, “Top of the World” with improvised lyrics. Here’s what Keeravani sang:

”There was only one wish on my mind

So was Rajamouli’s and my family’s

RRR has to win, pride of every Indian,

And must put me on the top of the world.”

Cheesy? Yes. But also entirely wholesome and adorable. 

Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga at the Academy Awards
Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga at the Academy Awards

“To my motherland, India.”

The first win for India at the 95th Oscar awards came when The Elephant Whisperers, directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, won in the Best Documentary Short Film category. Gonsalves’s film is set in Tamil Nadu’s Mudumalai National Park and about an orphaned elephant calf who is cared for by an indigenous couple. Gonsalves came on stage with producer Guneet Monga. In her acceptance speech, Gonsalves said, “I stand here today to speak on the sacred bond between us and our natural world. For the respect of indigenous communities. And empathy towards other living beings we share our space with. And finally, for co-existence. Thank you to the Academy for recognizing our film, highlighting indigenous people and animals. To Netflix for believing in the power of this film. To Boman Belli, for sharing their sacred tribal wisdom. … To my motherland, India.”

Monga joined the august list of people who have been played off by the Oscar orchestra when she came to the microphone to speak, only for the music to swell around her.

Queen Deepika 

Deepika Padukone may have only been a presenter at this year’s Oscar ceremony, but in her Louis Vuitton gown and Cartier jewellery, the actor was undoubtedly one of the brightest stars in the room. Channelling old Hollywood glamour, Padukone came on stage wearing a black gown with a mermaid silhouette, long black gloves, and diamonds that were outshone only by her dazzling smile. Everyone talks about how intimidating it is to stand on the Oscar stage, face to face with Hollywood’s finest, but Padukone was the epitome of easy elegance as she introduced the live performance of “Naatu Naatu”. She even paused to acknowledge and laugh with the crowd that whooped for RRR. Later, when M.M. Keeravani was giving his acceptance speech, the camera made it a point to find Padukone in the crowd. We’re not surprised. 

Related Stories

No stories found.