Watch the performance “Naatu Naatu” bringing explosive Tollywood energy to the Academy Awards

Expectations for a performance of “Naatu Naatu” were high, sending the Oscars broadcast into overdrive, and the song-and-dance number didn’t disappoint global audiences, who tuned in to see how the “Hook Dance” from the Indian film “RRR”. translated to the stage. Singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava recreated their vocals from the film’s soundtrack as a troupe of more than 20 dancers had their rollicking way with the choreography that became the biggest film music meme of the year.

Introduced by Deepika Padukone as “a total smash” as well as “the first song from an Indian production to be nominated for an Oscar,” the performance livened up the television show by recreating the dance-till-you-drop narration of the act as it appears in “RRR,” right down to the suspenders — albeit with even more colorful costumes than in the film’s 1920s

The “Naatu Naatu” performance took place about an hour and a half after the show began, but viewers didn’t have to wait that long to get a taste of the dances, which captivated audiences in the US as well as at home in and around India World. Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue ended with an “RRR” gag when Kimmel explained that winners who talked too long in their speeches would not be picked out by the orchestra. Rather, he said, “We have a group of performers that you’re going to dance backstage,” while dancers who would later take part in the “Naatu” number gathered around him to swarm.

“Naatu Naatu” came into the ceremony as an unlikely front-runner, marking the first time a Telugu song — ie, from “Tollywood” — was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song, let alone a host of superstars like Rihanna and Lady Gaga as a favorite. Composer MM Keeravani, who scored the film and co-wrote its many songs, and lyricist Chandrabose are the honorees for their work on the film, directed by SS Rajamouli. The song previously won the Golden Globe Award for Best Song.

The film’s leads, Ram Charan and NTR’s Rama Rao Jr., were in attendance to celebrate the high profile of “RRR” but did not participate in the TV show’s dance.

There was plenty of dancing among moviegoers to make up for what the stars haven’t been doing lately. At a recent screening at LA’s Theater at Ace Hotel, which was attended by many of the film’s key participants, guests danced in the aisles and in front of the screen, as did a previous sold-out screening ahead of awards season at the Chinese Theater.

“Naatu Naatu” comes around an hour into the three-hour film and is a very light-hearted moment amid otherwise tense action and drama. The scene was shot in front of the Ukrainian palace before the outbreak of war. “RRR” follows two patriotic but philosophically opposite men who join forces to rescue a girl from British colonial officials in 1920s Delhi.

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