RRR has generated a lot of buzz among moviegoers worldwide and it continues SS Rajamouli’s legacy as a top filmmaker in the Indian film industry. The film’s mix of action, drama, and historical significance, combined with the star power of its cast and crew, has resonated well with the audiences around the world, allowing it to win several major accolades. With RRR song Naatu Naatu nominated in the Best Original Song category at the Oscars this year, the success of the film will herald the beginning of a new era of creatively made Indian movies with strong cultural roots that reach a wider global audience By Natarajan Vidyasagar and Vivek Ratnakar
A film title with three capital letters ‘R’ is working wonders for Indian cinema. The credit for this goes to SS Rajamouli, India’s most successful film director Rajamouli, who turns 50 this October. He devised a transformation plan for his film RRR (“Rise, Rose, Revolt”), in order to penetrate the subconscious mind of the burgeoning new generation of North American filmgoers. In recent times, no other producer-director has sought to build euphoria for a film that paved the way for it to make inroads into the Awards Season, garnering an Oscar nomination and winning nearly a dozen other trophies in North America alone.
At the Golden Globe, RRR won the Best Original Song (Nattu Nattu…Native Native in Telugu) and Critics Choice Award. The New York Film Critics Award picked Rajamouli as the best director for RRR. Now, everyone is waiting with bated breath for the Academy Award presentation on March 12 to see if Nattu Nattu, nominated for Best Original Song, would herald Oscar for RRR, which will also be the first for an Indian film.
At Oscars, RRR’s Nattu Nattu will compete against Lady Gaga and Rihanna, whose songs too are nominated in the Best Original Song category.
There’s no doubt that the rhythm, choreography, style, energy, and action in Nattu Nattu song is captivating. While SS Rajamuli envisioned this song and dance, it was the seamless collaboration teamwork that made it a success.
Music composer MM Keeravani, choreographer Prem Rakshith, singers Kala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj and lyricist Chandrbose along with lead actors Ram Charan and Junior NTR, as also British actor Olivia Morris and American actor Edward Sonnenblick aided the viral success of the song. Nattu Nattu succeeded because it was incorporated into the film’s narration.
Music and dance, previously dismissed as a “waste of time” by Westerners, are now being revitalised by artists such as Rajamouli. The team behind the song Naatu Naatu may also get a chance to perform live at the Academy Awards annual gala. .The film shoot of Nattu Nattu was facilitated by Natarajan Ramji and Ukrainian Film producer
In the first instance, Bhushan Kumar’s T-Series and Manohar Naidu’s Lahari Music secured all language (Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, and Kannada) music rights to the historical drama RRR. This happened in July 2021, and the film was released in March 2022. The original Telugu version of the song, which is nominated for an Academy Award, has received over 145 million views on the Lahari Music | T-Series YouTube channel. Almost 240 million people have watched the Hindi version Nacho Nacho. Furthermore, the song is available on platforms such as JioSaavn, Spotify, Hungama, Gaana, Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music, Wynk, Resso, iTunes, and YouTube Music. According to industry estimates, Nattu Nattu has been heard over 500 million times. That’s incredible!
“I have personally admired MM Keeravaani’s music for over three decades and SS Rajamouli is a visionary director. To work with such exemplary creators is a huge opportunity. I am sure the audiences are going to love it,” said Manohar Naidu of Lahari Music after they acquired the music rights in July 2021. The rest they say is history.
Today, cheerleaders are galore for RRR. The Gods of modern cinema are enamoured of the film. Take Steven Spielberg and James Cameron for instance. They have publicly lauded SS Rajamouli as a filmmaker.
There is no amount of lobbying that can bring a film to the attention of mainstream national newspapers and magazines in the United States, and RRR was covered in the mainstream media (New York Times, LA Times, New Yorker, and many more), proving its credentials as a global entertainment.
Set in the 1920s pre-Independence Delhi, “RRR” follows the life of two characters who are loosely inspired by the real-life Telugu revolutionary leaders Komaram Bheem (N.T. Rama Rao, Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) as they team up to take on a number of brutal British officers. RRR Telugu version is estimated to have a gross box office of $104.94 mn.
“SS Rajamouli’s RRR has ushered in a transformation of Indian cinema,” said Manu M Savani, a well-known Indian film distributor in USA and Canada since 1968 who is currently writing a book on How Bollywood Won the West. “There is a visible change on the ground in America.” “SS Rajamouli is one of the greatest film directors in India. I have profited from every Rajamouli movie we acquired as global rights, including RRR,” said 81-year-old Ahmad Golchin, Chairman Phars Film Group, the man behind the birth and distribution of cinema in UAE. “All of his films have done incredibly well, including Baahubali: The Beginning, Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, and RRR. With his films, there is no linguistic barrier.” Golchin’s words are priceless. He has dedicated 59 years to cinema.
It explains why RRR is still popular in the United States and Japan. This marks the start of a new era of culturally rooted, creatively produced films that can reach a wider global audience.
RRR debuted on March 25, 2022. The film was released concurrently in the United States and received a lot of social media attention. Subsequently, it was a game changer, streaming on Netflix and topping its charts for 14 weeks, along with a screening at the TCL, Chinese Theatre Imax (Los Angeles). Audiences in America began to enjoy the film in the same way that fans in India did. Reading the audience pulse in America prompted Rajamouli to take daring risks,
including a theatrical re-release by Variance Films (distributor) and strategic guidance from film consultant Josh Hurtado.
RRR was also shown at a number of film festivals across the United States. When SS Rajamouli interacted at the Visionaries interview at TIFF Industry, the buzz was amplified. Enthralled by Rajamouli and lead actors Ram Charan and Junior NTR, many Western programmers and film critics publicly endorsed RRR, on which Rajamouli collaborated with his father–V. Vijayendra Prasad–a famous Indian storyteller and scriptwriter–to construct the story and screenplay.
“I was at the TCL Chinese Theatre Imax. We were conducting an 8K interview with SS Rajamouli. Almost 90% of the audience were Americans who thoroughly loved the film. That marked a watershed moment for RRR in North America,” says Ravi Velhal, Intel Corporation’s Global Content Technologist, and Executive Producer and VR Technologist for AR Rahman’s Le Musk.
RRR’s success was anticipated previously by renowned Indian film filmmaker Mani Ratnman, who stated during an interactive session with Rajamouli at the CII Dakshin South India Media & Entertainment Summit that Rajamouli was a marketing wizard and that he has lot to learn from him. In fact, Mani Ratnam admitted that Rajamouli inspired him to split his film Ponniyan Selvan into two parts. “When I saw Baahubali, I saw how you can present a story in two parts while keeping the audience glued; it opened up possibilities for me as well.”
Rajamouli has gained a new fan following as a result of the popularity of RRR. Aside from RRR, his new global (Western) followers are glued to his earlier works, including Student No. 1, Eega, Maghadheera, Sys, Baahubali Beginning, and Baahubali Conclusion.
It’s amazing how SS Rajamouli has accomplished this feat alone through perseverance and confidence, and that too without the assistance of a Hollywood studio.