RRR‘s ‘Naatu Naatu’ created history on Monday after it won the award for Best Original Song at the 95th Academy Awards, marking the first Indian win in the category. But, do you know where the much-loved song was filmed? Turns out, it was shot in Ukraine’s Mariinskyi Palace, the official residence of the president of Ukraine in Kyiv, a few months before the onset of the Russian invasion of the country. Last week, filmmaker SS Rajamouli expressed his gratitude to the people of Ukraine for playing an immense role in the creation of this iconic song.
While they were originally supposed to shoot the song in India, the monsoon season lead them to a new location — Mariinskyi Palace in Kyiv. “I thought I would have to look for some other location as it was the presidential palace, but they said ‘It is Ukraine, you can get the job done.’ I’m so thankful to the Ukrainian team. The colours of the palace, the size of the palace, the size of the ground for the dancers to be there was the exact right size,” he told in an interview with Vanity Fair magazine.
The Mariinskyi Palace is an Elizabethan baroque palace situated on the right bank of the Dnipro River in Kyiv, Ukraine. It is adjoined by the neo-classical building of the Verkhovna Rada, the parliament of Ukraine. It was built in 1747-55 for the tsaritsa Elizabeth, reconstructed in 1870, and is now used for government receptions.
The palace was commissioned by Empress Elizabeth in 1747 during the Russian Empire. Designed by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastelli in the rococo style, Elizabeth did not live to see the palace completed. Reportedly, the first senior-ranking member of the Imperial Family to stay in the palace was Empress Elizabeth’s niece-in-law, Empress Catherine II, who visited Kyiv in 1787. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the palace served as the main residence of the Governors-General.
However, it was then engulfed in a series of fires which led it to be abandoned for nearly half a century. It was in 1870 that Emperor Alexander II had the palace reconstructed by architect Konstantin Mayevsky, using old drawings and watercolours as a guide. Renamed after the reigning Empress Maria Alexandrovna, it was used as a residence for visiting members of the Imperial Family until 1917.
It also served as the Kyiv revkom headquarters during the years of the Russian Civil War in 1917-1920 before becoming a museum. The palace was once again damaged during the Second World War and was restored at the end of the 1940s. It underwent a few more restoration works in the next few decades.
“It is the face of our country,” Kyiv guide and historian Lyolya Filimonova told Kyiv Post. “How it was built is hard for us to imagine because nothing original has remained.”
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