The RRR song Naatu Naatu highlighted more than just India. That was a fantastic win for India and Indian cinema when it won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 95th Academy Awards last month, but it also highlighted the magnificent setting against which the cast performed, and it has received a lot of deserving attention.
Few people realised before the film’s release that the Oscar-winning song was filmed in Ukraine just before Russia invaded the country! A few sequences were shot in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, which is now entirely destroyed by conflict, but most of the filming in the country takes place at the lovely Mariinskyi Palace, which served as the right setting for Naatu Naatu.
Mariinskyi Palace, built in 1744 for Russian Empress Elizaveta Petrovna by architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, is in the Elizabethan baroque architectural style and is located on the right bank of the Dnipro River in Kyiv. The Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is located next to it.
The palace was devastated in a succession of fires in the early nineteenth century and remained in disrepair for over half a century. In 1870, Emperor Alexander II had it rebuilt using antique watercolours and designs. It was renamed after Empress Maria Alexandrovna, the ruler of the time, and used as a house for visiting members of the imperial family until 1917.
The palace has served as a revolutionaries’ headquarters, an agricultural school, and a museum. It was badly damaged during WWII and was repaired twice, once in the 1940s and again in the early 1980s.
It now has a new lease of life because of the artistry of Oscar-winning Naatu Naatu.
The palace serves as the official residence of Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to reports, permission was granted to film at the Ukrainian President’s residence because he is an actor himself.