Oscars 2023: All the South Asian Moments

This was a historic year with several wins, iconic presenters, and a musical performance many can’t forget.

Oscars 2023
South Asian moments at the Oscars 2023 (The Juggernaut)

The Juggernaut


March 13, 2023


5 min

The 95th annual Academy Awards took place on March 12, 2023 at Los Angeles’s Dolby Theater. This year, there were several Asian, including South Asian nominees. Bollywood star and entrepreneur Deepika Padukone introduced the “Naatu Naatu” song performance; producer and actor Mindy Kaling presented for Best Original Score, alongside Harold & Kumar’s John Cho; and Oscar winners Riz Ahmed and Questlove presented the award for Best Documentary Feature film. And Lilly Singh was the co-presenter of the official pre-Oscars show.

There were also several South Asian involved in nominations, including: 

  • “Naatu Naatu” from S.S. Rajamouli’s RRRfor Best Original Song.It was the first Indian feature film to be nominated for a category other than best international film at the Oscars and has already won a Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award. 

  • All That Breathes from Shaunak Sen, Aman Mann, and Teddy Leifer for Best Documentary Feature is about two Delhi brothers trying to protect the black kite, a bird.

  • The Elephant Whisperers from Kartiki Gonsalves and Guneet Monga for Best  Documentary Short category follows an indigenous couple who care for orphaned baby elephants in Tamil Nadu.

  • Stranger At the Gate, from Joshua Seftel and executive producer Malala Yousafzai, for Best Documentary Short depicts a formerly Islamophobic marine’s change of heart.

And Everything Everywhere All At Once had the lead with 11 nominations, including Son Lux — with guitarist and composer Rafiq Bhatia — for Best Original Score. By the end of the night, the film had won seven awards, including sweeping the top: best picture, best director, best actress (Michelle Yeoh becoming the second Asian woman to be nominated after Merle Oberon, and the first Asian woman to win). The film had also won big at several other award shows, a “clean sweep” similar to what Slumdog Millionaire(2008) had achieved over a decade ago. 

“We’ve all grown up watching the Oscars,” Deepika Padukone said on the champagne carpet ahead of the show. “From the part of the world we come from, it’s not every day you wake up going to the Oscars.”

“It’s definitely an exciting time for Indian cinema,” she added. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Without further ado, here are just some of the key South Asian moments of the 2023 Academy Awards.

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