Lyricist Chandrabose was on cloud nine when RRR’s song Naatu Naatu bagged an Oscar and he says the one word he said on the stage will always remain special.
When filmmaker Gunnet Monga was not given the opportunity to speak at the Oscar stage after her documentary The Elephant Whisperers won an award, it invited criticism from all corners. However, what many failed to notice was that even Chandrabose, whose penned the lyrics for Naatu Naatu that an Oscar in the Original song category, did not get more than a second to speak after the composer MM Keeravani gave the winning speech. But the lyricist has “no complaints” whatsoever.
He says even one moment at a stage like that is enough. “Keeravani sir was given 45 seconds but he spoke for only 30 and the music started playing. Whereas I got just one second to speak and the only word I uttered was ‘namaste’ and that was enough to create history,” says Chandrabose, who didn’t lose heart that he couldn’t say more.
“I know that winning the Oscar is enough, but for me, words are my treasure as well as my strength. Saying that one word made me extremely happy and proud. Namaste became history. That’s why I always say that we don’t need hours to make history. Even one second is enough,” he adds.
But never in his wildest dreams, Chandrabose had thought that his song would end up bringing India so much honour. “I worked on it like any other song of mine- with full honesty and dedication.” But what made it stand out was the fact that it had a “local flavour to it,” Chandrabose tells us, adding, “The song has a rural setting and reflects my memories, my childhood, the village I grew up in. It came straight from my heart. And since we incorporated elements of our culture in it, people in the west found it fresh. They loved and embraced it and I believe that’s the definition of art; it is to take the local culture to the global stage…to popularise our art through international platforms.”
And today, the celebrated lyricist is extremely happy as the song has become “a mantra ucchaaran – a chant”, for the people. “Whether it’s the Chinese, Americans, Japanese etc, everyone is dancing to the song even when they don’t understand the lyrics. The sound get into the head. It’s the same case with veda mantra. We don’t understand what it mean, but there is a sort of energy that get us addicted to it. Everybody connected with the rhyming of words, the sounds – the phonetics of it,” he beams with joy.
However, this journey of reaching the Oscar stage has been no less then a “pariksha” sent to him by the Almighty. Looking back at that magical moment, he recalls, “God tested his patience when it came to creating this masterpiece. I wrote 90% of the song in mere 45 minutes and went to (filmmaker) SS Rajamouli sir to get his approval. He liked it and passed it on to Keeravani sir, to work on the composition. Keeravani worked on it for a long because sometimes the lyrics would not fit the tune, while other times tune had to be changed to retain the lyrics. And after several versions and discussions later, the very first tune composed by Keeravani sir was locked.”
As the song was recorded and the team went to Ukraine to shoot it, Chandrabose also moved on to another project. “I was in Chennai working on Pushpa when I got a call from Rajamouli sir, who said that he want to change the last rap as he was not satisfied with it. I had no time so I requested director Bandreddi Sukumar to give me a 20 minute break to work on the rap. I wrote another version of it, which was instantly accepted by the team. They recorded it and the shoot continued. That was the last correction I did on the song Naatu Naatu.”
Before concluding, he shares, “God tested my patience while I was working on this song and I think I passed it with flying colours. Not even for a second during these 19 months, I felt frustrated or annoyed about the constant efforts that I had to put in making the changes. In fact, if he (Rajamouli) would ask me for one change, I would give him three alternatives. My only aim was to satisfy my director.”