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‘RRR’ Academy Award-Winning Original Song ‘Naatu Naatu’ Is an Absolute Banger. So What Does It Mean?

 N. T. Rama Rao Jr. as Komaram Bheem and Ram Charan as Alluri Sitarama Raju dancing in RRR

If you watched the Oscars on March 12, chances are you still have the “Naatu Naatu” chorus playing in your head on repeat. The original song from RRR was brought to the Oscars stage by singers Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava and paired with an energetic and joyous dance sequence. After the performance, “Naatu Naatu” went on to make history by nabbing the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The Telugu-language song managed to beat both Rihanna and Lady Gaga for the prestigious award.

As a result, “Naatu Naatu” became the first ever Telugu-language song to land an Academy Award, and it also marked the first time an Indian film won the Best Original Song award. It was a huge victory for Indian cinema, and many were pleased that RRR won the sole category it was nominated for. Despite RRR‘s high popularity, India opted not to submit it for consideration for Best International Film. However, the film still managed to make it to the Oscars and left a huge mark on the night.

With everyone singing the catchy tune of “Naatu Naatu” following the Oscars, some may wonder what the Telugu song means in English.

What does “Naatu Naatu” mean?

“Naatu” is an expression in Telugu that has a bit of ambiguous meaning, as it means different things to different individuals. Some reports have suggested it means “dance, dance” because the Hindi version of the song uses the term “naacho,” which translates directly to “dance.” However, the song’s composer, M. M. Keeravani, stated, “Naatu means ethnicity, ethnic. Whatever I do is purely mine. It’s my own experience, it’s my own way of expression. These are my words, this is my style, look at me, this is who I am.” The song’s writer, Chandrabose, had a slightly different interpretation, stating, “Naatu means raw and rustic. Everything I wrote in the song is from my childhood memories of my life and my parents. That’s why I created it very fast.”

In the film, when Komaram Bheem (N. T. Rama Rao Jr.) and Alluri Sitarama Raju (Ram Charan) perform “Naatu Naatu,” they are at a British colonial party. They are the only Indian attendees at the party and the British attendees mock them, claiming they know nothing of art or dancing. In response, Bheem and Raju perform “Naatu Naatu” and have a dance-off with the British. Hence, “Naatu” is really the term that describes their dance as something that is specific and special to them and their culture.

Meanwhile, the rest of the “Naatu Naatu” song is largely about dancing. It celebrates all-out dancing like a “lead dancer,” “an aggressive bull,” or a “bunch of young boys.” It also goes on to encourage dancing in a way that makes “your heart beat faster,” “your fingers snap,” and “your body sweat.” These lyrics pair perfectly with the all-out, energetic, carefree, and joyous dancing of Bheem and Raju. See below for the full English lyrics of “Naatu Naatu” as translated by the Times of India:

Like the lead dancer dancing at a local goddess’s festival

Like an aggressive bull jumping in the dust of the fields

Like the main dancer dancing at the festival of a local goddess

Like playing with the stick while wearing wooden slippers

Like a bunch of young boys gathering in the shade of a banyan tree

Like eating a roti jowar with a chilli.

Listen to my song. Listen to my song.

Listen to my song. Naatu Naatu Naatu, Crazy Naatu.

Naatu Naatu Naatu. Wild Naatu.

Naatu like a green chili.

Naatu like a sharp dagger.

Like beating a drum that makes your heart beat faster

Like the shrill voice of a bird that can ring your ears

Like singing a song that can make your fingers snap to the beat

Like the wild dance when there’s a fast beat

Like the dance that makes your body sweat

Listen to my song. Listen to my song.

Listen to my song. Naatu Naatu Naatu. Crazy Naatu.

Naatu Naatu Naatu. Wild Naatu.

Naatu like a green chili.

Naatu like a sharp dagger.

Dance so that the blood in your body

Jump violently which will shake the earth

The life force inside of you should dance with joy

So jump until the dust rises in the air. Naatu Naatu Naatu.

(featured image: Pen Studios)

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Rachel Ulatowski is a Freelance Writer, blogger, and aspiring author. As a Freelancer Writer she hopes to give readers the same comfort and enjoyment that she finds in all things nerdy and noteworthy, as a blogger she enjoys snarking on YouTubers and reality stars, and as a future novelist she hopes to raise awareness for child abuse through literature.