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Oscars 95 – Asian success – ‘Naatu, Naatu’; ‘The Elephant Whisperers’; Keeravaani & Chandrabose on Telugu; Monga and Gonsalves on baby elephants; and ‘EEAaO’

Oscars 95 – Asian success – ‘Naatu, Naatu’; ‘The Elephant Whisperers’; Keeravaani & Chandrabose on Telugu; Monga and Gonsalves on baby elephants; and ‘EEAaO’

History and controversy free too…

IT WAS A GOOD night for Asia at the 95th Oscars.

As well as wins for Indians in the form of Best Song for ‘Naatu Naatu’ from the film, ‘RRR’, director Kartiki Gonsalves and producer Guneet Monga collected the Short Documentary Award for their Netflix film, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’. See their comments and reactions (video) after just getting their awards.

Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga pose backstage with the Oscar® for Documentary Short Film
MM. Keeravaani and Chandrabose pose backstage with the Oscar® for Original Song during both [ciures ©Micheal Yada/A.M.P.A.S

There was history too as

Michelle Yeoh backstage with her Oscar for Best Actress backstage pic: ©Kysung Gong/A.MP.A.S

🎥 The film ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ (‘EEAaO’) triumphed winning SEVEN awards – it is also in English/Mandarin/Cantonese and tells a zany story of time travel and multiverses…

Ke Huy Quan poses backstage with
the Oscar® for Actor in a Supporting Role
pic:©Richard Hargaugh/A.M.P.A.S

🎥 Malaysian-born Michelle Yeoh won Best Actress and became the first Asian (of any prefix) to win and the first East Asian to do so. She said her win would encourage others who looked like her to pursue acting and be ambitious

🎥 Her co-stars Ke Huy Quan and Jamie Lee Curtis won in Best Supporting Roles, male and female, respectively. It was quite the moment for Vietnamese-born American Quan who has a long history in films and started as a child actor and came to prominence in ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ (1984)

🎥 The film EEAaO sensationally won the BEST PICTURE – arguably the biggest award at any Oscars

🎥 It also took home Oscars for director – there are two, Daniel Scheinart and Daniel Kwan

Riz Ahmed and Questlove present the Oscar®for
Documentary Feature Film

🎥 Also original screenplay award by Scheinart and Kwan

🎥 Riz Ahmed was among those who announced the winners

🎥 Bollywood megastar (72.8 million on Instagram) introduced musical act ‘Naatu Naatu’ onto the stage. It of course won the Best Song category and was performed singers Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava.

Witer, actor and producer, Mindy Kaling was among the South Asian stars who snapped herself with Indian stars – Padukone, Ram Charan from ‘RRR’ and his wife; and Simone Ashley (‘Bridgerton’), Maitreyi Ramakrishnan (‘Never Have I Ever’) and Naomi Scott (‘Aladdin’). They all attended the Vanity Fair magazine After Party. Scott has a picture on her Instagram too of herself with Tan France (‘Queer Eye for the Straight Guy’) as well Ashley and Kaling.

Deepika Padukone arrives for the Oscars
Deepika Padukone and Mindy Kaling
Clockwise from back: Tan France, Miny Kaling, Naomi Scott, Simone Ashley

The main body of people behind the success of ‘RRR’ attended the Oscars ceremony – as well as director SS Rajamouli- co-star NT Rama Rao was there with Charan and the two big individual winners on the evening – composer MM Keeravaani and lyricist Chandrabose.

Here are excerpts from their reaction straight after winning the Oscar…

MM Keeravaani – from winners’ press conferences (adjusted slightly for meaning):

“I feel this is about just the beginning of everything so that the world ‑‑ particularly the Western World ‑‑ focuses more on Indian music and Asian music, which is long (over)due. And I feel very happy. It’s like opening doors for the world to embrace our culture and music.” He also praised choreographer Prem Rakshith. “It’s a great deal of team which brought us this far and to win this greatest award.”

Lyricist Chandrabose said that the song reflected the experiences he had in his village (Challaggaria, Telegana) and said he was wondering how he would face his wife and children now with an Oscar award.

Earlier he said: “So (the) Telugu language has 56 letters. We have a lot of words, lot of expressions, a lot of feeling in our language, (a) very great language and very literary language. Very musical language to use. If you write (a) Telugu word, it sounds like music. So this song in ‘RRR’, Telugu, the meaning ‑‑ but non‑Telugu people like you people are loving the song, means this kind of sounding ‑‑ the kind of music inside the song that make this possible.”

Guneet Monga who is known internationally for her work with Anurag Kashyap (‘Gangs of Wasseypur), said the win was big for India and hailed the spirit of filmmaking in India and encouraged others to just do it.

Talking about filmmaker director Kartiki Gonsalves Monga said: “She picked up the camera, shot, started, found the story, started shooting with the subjects and made a beautiful reel and brought it to me as a producer. And that’s also when Netflix came on board. But what I’m trying to say here is don’t wait for anybody. Just get started. There’s no one here to give you permission. You don’t need a seat on the table. Clear your own table and sit on it.”
She said that she learnt a lot about indigenous tribal culture – a couple are at the centre of the film, ‘The Elephant Whisperers’ – which is about a husband and wife who help to nurture a young elephant. The Kattunayakan (the community from which the couple dervive), and they’re only 1,700 left and I want to give indigenous people a voice.”

Gonsalves said: “It’s 100 per cent passion. I didn’t realise I was going to be six years working on this documentary and that’s the only thing that made me get up every single day and do it. It was the passion that I had for the baby elephants, for the entire subjects, for coexistence and literally putting this message out to the entire world. That’s the only thing that kept me going.”

Monga also namechecked ‘All that Breathes’ and also mentioned ‘Writing with Fire’ which was nominated in the documentary section last year. It should also be said for two years running Indian documentaries have won the documentary prize – last year ‘All that Breathes’ triumphed, while Payal Kapadia’s more unconventional, ‘A Night of Knowing Nothing’, won the L’Oeil d’or too.

All pictures and video courtesy/©Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (A.M.P.A.S) and cannot be reproduced without prior permission or registration.

Full list – winners and nominees –

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture