Woke Critics Drag Oscars for Performing Bollywood Song ‘Naatu Naatu’ Without Indian Dancers

Dancers perform 'Naatu Naatu' from "RRR" onstage at the 95th Annual Academy Awards held at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Polk/Variety via Getty Images)
Rich Polk/Variety via Getty

Where were the dancers of South Asian descent in last week’s Oscars performance of Naatu Naatu? That is the core of ongoing criticism of the dance sequence of the viral song from international film hit RRR as performed on the night.

Naatu Naatu made Oscars history as the first song from an Indian film to win the Academy Award for best original song — pushing aside heavyweights Lady Gaga and Rihanna to snag the prize.

With music by composer M.M. Keeravani and lyrics by Chandrabose, the win for the Telugu-language song followed an exuberant performance, including the “hook dance” steps from the film rejigged for the Dolby Theatre stage.

However something was missing on the night as plenty of outlets have been quick to point out – then and since.

Dancers perform ‘Naatu Naatu’ from “RRR” onstage at the 95th Annual Academy Awards held at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Rich Polk/Variety via Getty Images)

Art school students give final touches to a painting of Indian actors N.T. Rama Rao Jr. (L) and Ram Charan of Indian movie RRR, along a street in Mumbai on March 13, 2023. (INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP via Getty Images)

Pieces by VarietyThe L.A. TimesIndieWire, and more, have lamented no dancers of South Asian descent were seen, despite coming from a film by Indian filmmakers, about Indian history, and informed heavily by the styles of Indian music. AV Club details:

[…] while the Oscars version of the dance was technically more diverse than the one in the movie—which is mostly about NTR Jr. and Charan’s characters dancing the crap out of a bunch of stuffy British white guys—South Asian professionals in the dance community are still calling out the Oscars for ignoring the opportunity to feature more South Asian performers on such a massive stage.

“Respectfully, where is the representation?” choreographer Joya Kazi asked in an Instagram post that preceded the performance (but not news about its casting).

Dancer Achinta S. McDaniel told Variety, “Some people say, ‘Just be happy with what we got,’ and that’s part of [the problem] — this idea of just accepting the scraps that are thrown to you. Just be happy an Indian song was nominated [and won]. Don’t be mad about the overwhelming racism that appeared in the performance.”

(L-R) Chandrabose and M. M. Keeravani accept the Best Original Song award for ‘Naatu Naatu’ from “RRR” onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Several critics also drew contrasts between the Naatu Naatu performance and the performance of Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire at the 2009 Oscars, which featured “Indian singers and it was a multi-racial group of dancers and musicians.”

The Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences has not responded to the criticisms.

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to: skent@breitbart.com


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