Rahul Sipligunj and Kaala Bhairava aren’t exactly household names, but they’re likely to provide one of the highlights of the 2023 Oscars on Sunday, March 12, when they perform “Naatu Naatu” from RRR.
The Indian Telugu-language song, which Sipligunj and Bhairava recorded for the film’s soundtrack, is nominated for best original song.
Fourteen years ago, a pair of Indian songs from Slumdog Millionaire enlivened the Oscar telecast. A.R. Rahman performed “Jai Ho” (which went on to win the award) with Mahalaxmi Iyer. Rahman also performed “O Saya,” which was nominated as well.
“Naatu Naatu,” with music by M.M. Keeravaani and lyrics by Chandrabose, is the fourth best original song nominee that the Academy has announced will be performed on the 2023 show.
On Feb. 23, the Academy announced that Rihanna will perform “Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The day after, it announced that actress and singer Sofia Carson, accompanied by songwriter Diane Warren, will perform “Applause” from Tell It like a Woman.
Yesterday, the Academy announced that Stephanie Hsu, an Oscar nominee for best supporting actress for Everything Everywhere All at Once, will join David Byrne and Son Lux to perform that film’s “This Is a Life.”
The final nominee for best original song is “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick (music and lyrics by Lady Gaga and BloodPop). If the Academy is able to book Gaga to perform her song on the show, as is expected, this will be the first Oscar telecast in three years to include performances of all five nominated songs.
Two years ago, all five songs were performed, but on a pre-show. That move was seen as disrespectful by many in the music community. Last year, Van Morrison declined to perform “Down to Joy” from Belfast, so only four of the nominated songs were performed on the telecast.
This latest booking was announced on Tuesday (Feb. 28) by executive producers and showrunners Glenn Weiss and Ricky Kirshner, and also executive producer Molly McNearney. The producers will continue to announce talent appearing on the show in the coming days.
Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the 95th Oscars will be held on Sunday, March 12, at the Dolby Theatre at Ovation Hollywood, and will be televised live on ABC and in more than 200 territories worldwide.