'RRR', 'All That Breathes', 'The Elephant Whisperers' teams erupt with joy over Oscar nominations

NewsDrum Desk
24 Jan 2023

New Delhi, Jan 24 (PTI) The teams behind "RRR", "All That Breathes" and "The Elephant Whisperers" on Tuesday celebrated their films' history-making nominations at the 95th Academy Awards.

From SS Rajamouli-directed "RRR", the movie's hit track "Naatu Naatu" bagged the nomination in the Original Song category, while Shaunak Sen's "All That Breathes" and "The Elephant Whisperers", directed by Kartiki Gonsalves, made it to final five of Documentary Feature and Documentary Short Subject sections, respectively.

"WE CREATED HISTORY!! Proud and privileged to share that #NaatuNaatu has been nominated for Best Original song at the 95th Academy Awards," tweeted the official handle of the movie.

In the original song category, "Naatu Naatu" is nominated alongside "Applause" from “Tell It Like a Woman”, "Hold My Hand" from “Top Gun: Maverick”, "Lift Me Up" from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and "This Is a Life" from “Everything Everywhere All at Once”.

This is the third major international recognition for “Naatu Naatu”, composed by MM Keeravaani and sung by Kaala Bhairava and Rahul Sipligunj after a Golden Globe as well as a Critics Choice Award. It won another Critics Choice Award in Best Foreign Language Film.

In a Twitter post, Keeravani gave a shout out to all those who contributed to the hit Telugu track.

"Congratulations to my team !! Big hugs to all," the music composer wrote.

The Oscar nomination for "Naatu Naatu" is a proud moment for the entire team of "RRR", V Vijayendra Prasad, the film's writer and father of Rajamouli, told PTI.

"It is a proud moment for India, for Telugu movie industry and for Indian cinema," he added.

Prem Rakshith, who choreographed the song, told PTI, "I am very happy. I don't have any words to express." "All That Breathes" is the first Indian feature documentary to be nominated for an Academy Award.

It is nominated alongside “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”, “Fire of Love”, “A House Made of Splinters” and “Navalny”.

Set in Delhi, "All That Breathes" follows two siblings, Mohammad Saud and Nadeem Shehzad, who have devoted their lives to rescuing and treating injured birds, especially black kites.

Sen said he is feeling "utterly relieved, happy and somewhat discombobulated" after his documentary received the Oscar nod.

"It's feeling extraordinarily difficult to say something that doesn't sound like a cliche. We're utterly besides ourselves with joy and a bit lost for words at this moment. Utterly relieved, happy and somewhat discombobulated.

"I want to offer my deepest, most heartfelt thanks to our incredible characters and the whole film team and I am grateful to the Academy for recognising their work," Sen told PTI.

Documentary short “The Elephant Whisperers”, set against the background of wild spaces of South India, is nominated alongside four other films -- “Haulout”, “How Do You Measure a Year?”, “The Martha Mitchell Effect” and “Stranger at the Gate”.

Produced by Guneet Monga and Achin Jain of Sikhya Entertainment, it follows the heartwarming story of an indigenous couple who have been given an orphaned elephant, Raghu to look after.

In a statement, Gonsalves said she is honoured that the Academy has recognised an "Indian indigenous documentary from the heart of South India".

"'The Elephant Whisperers' is a hopeful story of respect for and cooperation with nature in an era rife with conflict and denial of the threats to our beautiful planet.’ We hope this film helps create more awareness, empathy, and connection to elephants and other living beings that we share our spaces with.

"It took five years to make my debut documentary 'The Elephant Whisperers', a long personal journey from the place I call home, that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Kattunayakan Community, who opened their hearts and trusted us with their unique experiences and a pathway ahead," the filmmaker said.

Earlier, two entries set in India - "Smile Pinki" and "Period. End Of Sentence", won Oscars for Best Documentary Short. Monga had also produced "Period".

"Today's nomination strengthens my faith in stories with heart and people who tirelessly submit themselves to a larger vision. It is truly for them! It is the innocence and honesty that transcended these boundaries and made The Elephant Whisperers travel from a small quaint town of Ooty to the biggest stage of Cinema!” Monga tweeted.

The producer also expressed her joy over “RRR” and “All That Breathes” nominations.

"This journey has also been about the representation and making our country proud. So here's to India, and here's to all of us... RRR and All That Breathes. OMG! This is for INDIA," Monga tweeted.

Her words about Indian representation at the Oscars were also echoed by AR Rahman, who became the first Indian to win two trophies at the Oscars –Best Original Song that he shared with Gulzar and Best Original Score – for “Slumdog Millionaire” in 2009.

Rahman said it was surprising that it had taken so much time for Indian films to register nominations at the Oscars.

"I thought it would start ten years back, it’s 12 years late. This should happen every year from India because India is a country of 1.3 billion people... Most of the movies are not even entered. At least, they (makers of RRR) had the thing to put it there and Golden Globes... and they did little promotion and that's how it works," the composer said at a song launch event.

The nominations for 23 categories of the 95th Academy Awards were announced by Hollywood actors Riz Ahmed and Allison Williams. The award ceremony will take place on March 12. PTI RB BK SHD RB

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