NEW DELHI: India was “elated and proud” after scoring two Oscar wins on a historic night for Asian films, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Monday.
The energetic song-and-dance number “Naatu Naatu” from Indian movie “RRR” was awarded the Oscar for best original song, beating competition from superstars Lady Gaga and Rihanna.
Another Indian production, “The Elephant Whisperers,” a tale of an orphaned elephant calf, won the Oscar for best documentary short.
“The popularity of ‘Naatu Naatu‘ is global. It will be a song that will be remembered for years to come,” Modi said on Twitter.
“Congratulations to @mmkeeravaani, @boselyricist and the entire team for this prestigious honor,” he said, referring to the team behind the winning song.
“India is elated and proud.”
“Naatu Naatu” was a favorite going into the competition, having already received the Golden Globe for best song in January.
It is the first ever track from an Indian production to win an Oscar.
The field of nominees in the category included Lady Gaga’s “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick” and Rihanna’s “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
“Naatu Naatu” was shot outside Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s official residence in 2021, before Russia’s invasion, according to director SS Rajamouli.
Produced by southern India’s Telugu-language film industry last March, “RRR” has become a huge hit, both in India and abroad, with moviegoers dancing in cinema aisles.
It tells the story of two colonial-era revolutionaries, featuring echoes of Hindu mythology alongside fighting, fire and action galore — as well as gravity-defying stunts and even a punch-up with a tiger.
Modi also congratulated director Kartiki Gonsalves and producer Guneet Monga for helming the documentary “The Elephant Whisperers.”
“Their work wonderfully highlights the importance of sustainable development and living in harmony with nature,” Modi tweeted.
Set in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, “The Elephant Whisperers” tells the story of an orphaned elephant calf named Raghu who is put in the care of Bomman and Bellie, an indigenous couple.
The documentary celebrates the bond that develops between them as well as the natural beauty of their surroundings.
“Tonight is historic as this is the first ever Oscar for an Indian production,” an elated Monga wrote on Twitter.