'RRR' songwriter tried to thank late mother at Golden Globes

M. M. Keeravani holds up his Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR" on Tuesday. Keeravani, who did't get to finish his speech at the Golden Globes, said he wanted to thank his late mother. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 6 | M. M. Keeravani holds up his Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Naatu Naatu" from "RRR" on Tuesday. Keeravani, who did't get to finish his speech at the Golden Globes, said he wanted to thank his late mother. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- RRR songwriter M.M. Keeravani accepted the Golden Globe for the movie's "Naatu Naatu," but did not get to finish his speech. Keeravani told UPI he was trying to thank his mother, who died Dec. 12 -- the day of the nominations.

"That was the last good news I shared with her," Keeravani told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "She felt very happy and that was the last thing I told her before she passed away."


The date of the Golden Globe Awards was important to Keeravani, too. Jan. 10 marked the 36th anniversary of the day Keeravani began his apprenticeship with composer K. Chakravarthy.

"Both the dates were very significant to me," Keeravani said. "That's what I wanted to convey further, but the time was up."


RRR (Rise Roar Revolt) is a Telugu action film with musical numbers like the award-winning "Naatu Naatu." Ram Charan Teja and N.T. Rama Rao Jr. play real-life revolutionaries Alluri Sitarama Raju and Komaram Bheem, respectively, in a historical fiction about their early adventures together.

Raju and Bheem sing and dance to "Naatu Naatu" at a party held by British officers during the British Raj in the 1920s. They humiliate the British men who cannot keep up with their moves, pulling their suspenders in synchronized choreography.

Keeravani complimented Rama Rao and Charan Teja's stamina in his acceptance speech. The composer told UPI he could not even perform the choreography to his own song.

"I was motivated to repeat the steps they did, but I realized how difficult it was," Keeravani said. "That was the intention of the director -- that what they are doing can't be done by each and every other person."

In mythologizing Raju and Bheem, director S.S. Rajamouli gave them superhuman dance moves. They also rescue children from explosions, attack the British with an army of animals and ride on each other's shoulders in the film's action scenes.

Keeravani worked with Rajamouli, the actors and choreographer Prem Rakshith in developing "high-energy and high-voltage dance steps" for "Naatu Naatu."


The actors did not sing themselves, however. They lip-synced to Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava's song.

"When you sing and dance, the singing tends to go off key," Keeravani said.

"Naatu Naatu" began with lyrics by Chandrabose, which Keeravani set to music. "Naatu" refers to cultural heritage, or "something that belongs to a village" as Keeravani explained.

"It's the power of dance, power of fun moments and power of the motherland," Keeravani said of them.

RRR also closes with another Keeravani song with lyrics by Ramajogayya Sastry, "Etthara Jenda." Keeravani said "Etthara Jenda" is also celebratory, but more specifically patriotic.

"It's dedicated to all the warriors and freedom fighters," Keeravani said.

RRR opened in March internationally, making $154 million worldwide, $14.7 million of which came from the United States. Screenings with Rajamouli, cast and Keeravani in attendance continue to sell out in Los Angeles as recently as Monday.

"Our emotions are the same," Keeravani said of American audiences that embrace RRR. "The languages are different, but the feelings we have, we share for each other. They're good feelings."

RRR is the 12th Rajamouli film that Keeravani has composed. Keeravani said he hopes fans also discover Eega, Baahubali: The Beginning and Baahubali 2: The Conclusion which are all streaming on Netflix, along with a Hindi version of RRR.


"There's no hypocrisy because he's my brother," Keeravani said of his relationship with Rajamouli. "There's nothing to hide from him and there is no ego. He can argue with me very freely."

Indian films blend dramas like action, musical and romance, and Keeravani said he had eclectic tastes himself. Before getting into the movie business, he said, The Exorcist and Enter the Dragon were his favorite films.

"Mostly I'm a great fan of horror and kung fu," Keeravani said.

So far, Keeravani has only worked in film music. He hopes one day to produce music independently, too.

"I'm looking for the right producer to collaborate with," Keeravani said. "In the future, I may collaborate with some artists from the west."

One American artist Keeravani regrets he missed at the Golden Globes was fellow nominee Rihanna. She was seen congratulating the RRR team when they won, but Keeravani didn't cross paths with her.

"I missed a great chance at meeting her because she's one of my favorites, too," Keeravani said. "I like her 'Disturbia' song very much. I hope I get a chance to meet her and convey the same."

"Naatu Naatu" is on the Oscars' shortlist for Original Song nominations, along with Rihanna's "Lift Me Up" from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.


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