RRR Choreographer Came Up With Over 100 Variations Of The Naatu Naatu Dance

Any day that gives us an excuse to preach the gospel of S.S. Rajamouli's "RRR" is a good day. In our review of the film, Hoai-Tran Bui described the Telugu-language action film as "a maximalist epic that puts Hollywood blockbusters to shame," and that's putting it lightly. "RRR" ended up on the top 10 lists of a majority of the /Film staff for 2022 releases, and we have happily joined the chorus of fans anxiously awaiting the live performance of their Academy Award-nominated song, "Naatu Naatu."

For as many incredible, brain-melting, absolutely remarkable moments within the whopping over three-hour runtime of "RRR," it is the dance sequence that truly captivated cinephiles all over, and had fans hook-stepping their way around the globe. "Naatu Naatu" as a song is undeniably catchy and paired with a dance that makes you want to get out of your seat and try it yourself, a truly magical and magnetic moment that reminds us why we love movies so much.

During a recent video breakdown with Vanity Fair as part of their "Notes on a Scene" series, Rajamouli dove deep into the "Naatu Naatu" scene to explain how he pulled off one of the most delightful film moments of 2022. "I must have seen this song many, many, many, many, many times," he said, admitting he often watches the scene on YouTube or on streaming apps. "I was worried that I wouldn't give [Variety] the notes [on the scene] and I myself will keep watching this song again."

Luckily, Rajamouli gave a scene breakdown for the ages, sharing plenty of fun facts, like how committed the choreographer, Prem Rakshith, was in ensuring "Naatu Naatu" had a dance as epic as the film itself.

Dance dance!

S.S. Rajamouli shared that the "Naatu Naatu" scene was filmed in front of the Ukrainian Presidential Palace and that if audiences look closely, the parliament building can be seen in the distance. The attention to detail throughout the scene is even more impressive than we previously realized, with Rajamouli intentionally casting professional musicians to play the band at the party, even though they weren't actually playing any music. Why? Because real musicians will hold their instruments correctly.

Rajamouli praised choreographer Prem Rakshith, who has collaborated with the director before, as well as the film's leads, N.T. Rama Rao Jr. and Ram Charan. "He gave one of the most memorable numbers for both of them," he said. "He knows their style, exactly what their body language is, he exactly knows what their fans expect out of them." Rakshith was also responsible for the decision to include suspender choreography, which became one of the fan-favorite segments of the dance.

The instructions for Rakshith were difficult because Rajamouli knew the steps "should be nice, it shouldn't be too difficult, it should suit the style of both actors, and it should be fantastic." As Rakshith is one of the world's most prolific choreographers, he handled the challenge with ease. "He has come up with, you wouldn't believe it, more than a hundred variations for this 3/4 signature, [sings] 'Naatu Naatu Naatu Naatu Naatu Naatu.'" That's right, there were over 100 different ways the choreography for the chorus of "Naatu Naatu" could have played out.

The wow of Jenny's reaction

Listening to S.S. Rajamouli talk about the scene brings its own form of infectious joy because it's so clear he loves movies, and he especially loves making them. That might seem like an obvious observation, but there's truly no cynicism or snobbery when he talks about his work. He geeks out about a movie coming together the same way we do. He radiates excitement with every segment, and it's hard not to get caught up in the "pure cinema" of it all.

As far as Rajamouli's favorite parts of the scene, he cites the suspender choreography as his favorite step (highlighting the costume designs from his wife, Rama Rajamouli), and the "Wow!" reaction shot of Jenny (Olivia Morris) as the dance competition heats up. "That wow expression of Jenny is the best," he exclaimed. "There are countless messages, memes, everything saying that the entire audience's expression toward the song is exactly that." He said that when the moment was shot, the entire crew was trying to sneak into the director's tent to see it again, knowing that they had really captured something magical.

"For me, 'Naatu Naatu,' one of the reasons why I think it is such a hit is not just because of the music, not just because of the dance, [but] because there is a beautiful story in itself," he said. "Naatu Naatu" was easily one of the best movie moments of 2022, and we thank Vanity Fair and Rajamouli for giving us all an excuse to watch the scene over and over again.